Right Brain / Left Brain President

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Stout. S HOEMAKER Contemporary Psychology Chris E.Right Brain/Left Brain President Barack Obama’s Uncommon Leadership Ability and How We Can Each Develop It Mary Lou Décosterd F OREWORD BY C HRISTOPHER C. Series Editor .

Praeger An Imprint of ABC-CLIO. LLC ABC-CLIO. paper) — ISBN 978-0-313-38073-0 (ebook ) 1. Visit www. California 93116-1911 This book is printed on acid-free paper Manufactured in the United States of America Public figures referred to in this book were not interviewed. Readers should not regard any and all such information as a substitute for medical advice or prescription. mechanical. photocopying. cm. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Décosterd.abc-clio. Leadership — Psychological aspects.4 — dc22 2010000525 ISBN: 978-0-313-38072-3 EISBN: 978-0-313-38073-0 14 13 12 11 10 1 2 3 4 5 This book is also available on the World Wide Web as an eBook. p. ISBN 978-0-313-38072-3 ( hard copy : alk. — (Contemporary psychology) Includes bibliographical references and index. Descriptions of public figures are based on publicly available information. stored in a retrieval system. or transmitted. The author and publisher disclaim responsibility for any adverse effects arising from the application of any health and fitness information contained in this book. 2. in any form or by any means. foreword by Christopher C.com for details. or otherwise. recording. except for the inclusion of brief quotations in a review. Mary Lou. P.Copyright 2010 by Mary Lou Décosterd All rights reserved. Right brain / left brain president : Barack Obama’s uncommon leadership ability and how we can each develop it / Mary Lou Décosterd . without prior permission in writing from the publisher. I. Box 1911 Santa Barbara. Left and right ( Psychology) 3. Barack — Psychology. The book contains information about health and fitness. No part of this publication may be reproduced. LLC 130 Cremona Drive. . BF637.L4D434 2010 158'.O. Title. Cerebral dominance. Shoemaker. Obama. electronic. 4.

. . with heartfelt appreciation for bringing leadership back into the forefront. .To “That One” .

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Experiences. and Moments Heritage Recapped Leadership and the Brain A Leadership-Perfect Form xi xiii xv 1 1 4 5 7 9 11 13 15 16 19 19 20 23 33 34 36 .Contents Figures Series Foreword Foreword 1 The Obama Phenomenon Leading with Both Sides of His Brain At First Blush Intelligence Personified From Intellect to Action Passion and Attitude Constructive Intolerance His Human Side Making History The Phenomenon Recapped 2 The Nature/Nurture of Leadership A Life Juxtaposed The Luck of the Draw Influences.

and Left-Brain Potentials A Leadership Model Right Brain/Left Brain: Counterintuitive A Leader’s Line of SITE The MEGA Mind The Plus Factors Model in Context 41 41 43 45 47 49 50 59 59 64 69 73 77 79 79 83 88 91 95 97 97 98 100 103 105 106 108 110 112 115 115 116 119 125 4 Obama: Leading from the Right? Strategic Intent An Innovative Approach A Transformational Imperative Engaging Underpinnings Noting Breadth and Depth 5 Obama’s Vision Realized Methodical: A Call to Action Expressive Excellence Grounded: Responsible with a “Capitol” R True Assertive Right Brain/Left Brain Summary 6 Obama and the Plus Factors: Sealing the Deal Resilient Energy Positive Thinking. Obama-Style What He Does and How He Does It Recharging the Energy Battery Savvy 101 Fundamental Awareness Power and Influence Perception as Reality Defining Moments 7 Becoming More Obama-Like From Values to Actions Leadership Must-Haves Your Call to Action Tools of the Trade .viii Contents 3 Right.

Contents ix Summary Thoughts Parting Inspirations Acknowledgments Appendix Notes Bibliography Index 132 134 137 139 145 155 159 .

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1 7.Figures 3.1 7.2 Guiding Behaviors Sorted by Right.1 3.2 6.and Left-Brain Ability Right Brain/Left Brain Leadership Model (Complete) Energy Model for Traits of RESILIENT Leadership Right Brain/Left Brain Leadership Model (Partial) Sample Ratings for Traits of STRATEGIC Leadership 42 51 99 120 123 .

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The high-water mark reached by Dr. Now Right Brain/Left Brain President: Barack Obama’s Uncommon Leadership Ability and How We Can Each Develop It continues where Right Brain/Left Brain Leadership left off. Décosterd in prior consulting gigs and with her in her first book in this series. and forms galore. her Tools of the Trade. it additionally affords me the chance to meet new authors and get to know them and their work at an intimate level—resulting in deep friendships and moving intellectual experiences. In some cases. It is truly a major contribution to the field. Dr. conveniently packaged into a book! She doesn’t stop there. either. as she helps us to make our new learning actionable. While history will be the final judge of this president. I like how she transforms her book into a tool box. filled with things such as her Ten-Point Executive Summary. I have previously noted that Right Brain / Left Brain Leadership is a truly impressive effort—really the first book of its kind that is an amalgam of neuroscience. this is in the context of a very enjoyable book. Décosterd deconstructs the complexity of politics. all of which comprise a leadership how-to. as well as of all presidents.Series Foreword I feel fortunate to hold the often enviable position of being the Series Editor of Contemporary Psychology for Praeger. Décosterd in her earlier book may wind up being eclipsed by this volume. and intuition. and human functioning and makes it all understandable and accessible. It gives me a proverbial backstage pass and often giddy first looks at what has become what you are now holding in your hands. And remember. leadership. In the case of this project. It is a masterpiece of impressively researched writing blended with her own model of leadership into an understandable synthesis that is highly readable (and enjoyable!)—regardless of your politics. leadership. her Right and Left Brain Toolkits. strategy. the popular Right Brain/Left Brain Leadership: Shifting Style for Maximum Impact (2008). no president . I already have had the very pleasurable experience of working with Dr.

Chris E. Stout Kildeer. and that makes this book historic as well. Contemporary Psychology .xiv Series Foreword has been so completely researched and considered so early on in a presidency as Mr. Obama herein. Illinois Series Editor.

committed. there can be little doubt that he is an extraordinarily charismatic leader. the world can no longer afford that sort of self-indulgence. jingoistic. and wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan.Foreword Dr.S. now brings her extraordinary talents and groundbreaking Right Brain/ Left Brain Model to an examination of the leadership style of President Barack Obama in Right Brain/Left Brain President. The demand for visionary. self-serving. There is too much at stake. Regardless of one’s perspectives on Obama’s policies. pragmatic. In my experience in both the U. we are at the front edge of an era of great challenge and change—when the very nature of the international community and the nation-state are in significant flux. His ability to lead a highly polarized electorate to solutions in all of these areas will be the ultimate measure of his leadership skills. In a broader sense. great right brain/ left brain leaders are not born. Across the spectrum of human activity—from government to the private sector—the world needs leaders who are at once strategic and innovative (right brain). nurtured. however. and inspirational leaders has never been higher than it is in these opening decades of the 21st century. To design and implement such leader-development programs. and bigoted leaders has long past. the single most important determinant of success or failure will be leadership. The age of petty. They are created. one of our nation’s leading experts in leadership psychology. Mary Lou Décosterd. while at the same time methodical and grounded (left brain). Obama confronted a breathtaking array of challenges—health care. and grown through structured programs of leader development that share universal components but are tailored to the particular institutions or governments in which individual leaders are to serve. a struggling economy. Army and the private sector. able to excite and galvanize a wide political spectrum — both in the United States and around the world—to rally to his call. . In such an environment. In the first year of his administration. narrow. climate change.

Christopher C. digest its lessons. Décosterd’s model that identifies and then applies ten key behaviors to maximum leadership impact. This book then shows how Obama’s unique brand of leadership is the result of his ability to leverage his full brain potential in how he thinks.S. PhD Senior Vice President for Strategy L-3 Communications Services Group and MPRI Dr. thereby establishing a foundation upon which leader-development programs can be fashioned and implemented. As such. decides. Shoemaker has a PhD in political science and is a graduate of West Point and a retired colonel in the U. Décosterd’s methodology to specific leaders. she has examined his remarkable abilities to harness his leadership potentials—many of which are just now reaching their maturity. Right Brain/Left Brain President is a first-class guide to 21st-century leadership through an up-close look at the man who is at the national power epicenter. . and acts. Shoemaker. Army. Emerging leaders of all political stripes should read this book. Dr. He served on the staff of the National Security Council during the administrations of both President Reagan and President Carter. Using her right brain/left brain methodology.xvi Foreword we must first understand the fundamentals of the psychology and physiology of leadership. despite his relative lack of executive experience. and then apply them to their own development. he possesses significant right. Such programs will allow the successor generation to manage their dayto-day issues and challenges with a strategic perspective and to look across their minds to discover untapped potentials. Décosterd has undertaken a detailed and rigorous analysis of Barack Obama and his rise to political prominence. Dr. Décosterd’s seminal research and writings on leadership provide an invaluable point of departure for understanding leadership. Barack Obama’s leadership skill sets are examined through the prism of Dr.and left-brain integrated skill sets that enable him to address a complex array of challenges. Right Brain/Left Brain President is a significant contribution to an enlightened perspective on leadership and will be one of a series of applications of Dr. Within that framework.

was run like a prudent. what with the full weight of global economic crisis upon us. savvy. we noticed in Obama a marked departure from Washington politics as usual. The world was seeing those qualities in Barack Obama. Few can recall a time when a U. more than ever. someone who led with intellect and vision. . It was Barack Obama who would lead us through the challenges of our time and return our nation to the very ideals upon which it was founded. when Barack Obama was elected the next president of the United States of America. His campaign. We needed a leader with a steady hand and an open mind. the war on terror ever intensifying and environmental threats looming. 2008. Something was different about the man and his politics. We needed a full-spectrum leader. America chose a young. national election had such far-reaching impact. Certainly the existing context shaped the moment’s intensity. we needed leadership. How would we ever get on a better track. for one thing. begin to reverse the damages done and grow in a new direction? Now. charismatic Harvard-educated African American as their political star. From candidate to president. who could connect with all people and yet who could stand strong.S. Novel strategic outreach maximized the internet to attract targeted demographic groups and the ever-chanted mantra “Yes we can” built and held momentum. hi-tech business.Chapter 1 The Obama Phenomenon The fact that my 15 minutes of fame has extended a little longer than 15 minutes is somewhat surprising to me and completely baffling to my wife. or a slight tweak in the status quo. Experiencing Obama through rallies and high-profile media appearances further reinforced that this was not typical campaigning. —Barack Obama1 Leading with Both Sides of His Brain The world watched in awe on November 4. not more of the same.

but as a rule—as a dynamic interplay between right. genuine. You may have heard it said that we use only a small part of our brains. firm. strategic. some more left brain — and to shift smoothly between apparent brainstyle differences. some more right brain in nature. we are socialized to what we already know. Put another way. Over the years and through their many roles and challenges they hone a leadership approach that nets results. If this is the way our brains are set up to function.2 Leaders in particular tend to gravitate toward their preferences. In President Obama we saw an ability to be intuitive. Expressions like “we are creatures of habit” and “great minds think alike” illustrate our tendencies toward what is known and familiar. All too often. President Obama’s quintessential genuineness combined with his celebrated heritage to excite and uplift the masses. president. We also experienced someone who was as pragmatic and definitive as he was at relating well to others. diverse group of top thinkers and functional experts. few leverage it. a fresh. in President Obama we saw someone who was leading with both sides of his brain—able to act from a set of behaviors. President Obama was leveraging his brain in the manner in which it was set up to function. a seemingly natural and effortless flow that made his brand of leadership so powerful. fluidly through their orientation to the White House. our initial excitement soon turns sour. fair. an excitement we feel when we are in the company of someone or something different.2 Right Brain/Left Brain President Once selected.S. and decisive hand. Today. Following the gala the newly sworn in President Obama marked his first weeks in office with a firm. through a sharing and collaboration of skills enabling the whole to be truly greater than the sum of its parts. this is certainly true. regardless of our base intelligence or expertise. and decisive. We sometimes say that we don’t like to “step out of our comfort zones. able to know the way while recognizing implicit opportunities and threats. and innovative. For most of us. the president-elect led his transition team. engaging. though. those who lead from controlled prefer- . After all. Upon closer examination of the Obama phenomenon we note the root of his allure. Most are constricted by preferences. The expression “opposites attract” refers to an emotional pull. The inauguration was carefully crafted in a way befitting the historic event that it was—the induction of the first African American U. While we gravitate toward the different.and left-brain behaviors. fair. however. In essence. Obama masterfully modeled the sensitive balance of power needed by an incumbent. fluid. why don’t we all think and act this way? While many if not all of us have the capacity for such dual-brain engagement. In descriptors like prudent.” an indicator of how we unwittingly thwart our brain’s diverse potential. it is often those very preferences that made them successful in the first place. masterful. In the face of unprecedented global crisis. behavioral habits that cause us to think and act in a more singular fashion. we recognize a wide range of behaviors along with a breadth and flexibility in both style and perspective. More to the point. savvy. what we noted was that Obama’s brain-style shifts occurred not as an exception. uplifting.

new environmental and social circumstances. however.3 Obama’s ability to extend himself and lead from a wide range of behaviors enabled him to ultimately win the election. with intensified profitability challenges. it is harder for leaders to get to the goal line. would enable leaders to better leverage their right and left brain potential and thereby better address the complex issues of today. Right Brain / Left Brain Leadership: Shifting Style for Maximum Impact. In a followup to that work. and the world moving at lightning speed. and in fact overplaying them. So what is happening? Simply put. Today’s leadership vulnerability is evidenced in a number of ways. it was enough for a solid leader to leverage his or her strengths and for the most part succeed. being moved out of assignments. capable. The net result is that many of today’s solid leaders are getting the message that they aren’t making it.and left-brain leadership behaviors were identified that if accessed. The lucky ones are succeeding but at greater personal cost. Right Brain /Left Brain President will examine Barack Obama’s broad-based leadership style through the lens of integrated right. and yet felt less successful. Today. like low morale. In my previous book. Still others feel ineffectual at addressing escalating people challenges. leaders need to act from a more complete range of business. Such vulnerability is aptly expressed by one senior vice president interviewed who relayed that never before had he worked harder. More specifically.The Obama Phenomenon 3 ences may find themselves vulnerable. In order to succeed in today’s work climate. New leaders are given more and more responsibility with less and less experience or training and are becoming quickly overwhelmed. Obama demonstrated a breadth and depth in leadership ability. a top ten list of right. and interpersonal behaviors. While his opponents were calling attention to their well-honed strengths (preference leadership). Obama called on his breadth (multiple leadership behaviors) and depth (nuance traits within a given leadership behavior). In the past. well-intentioned leaders are receiving lower performance ratings. this book will present the following: • The Obama phenomenon— aspects of Obama’s leadership that captivated so many so quickly as compared to the status quo • An understanding of how the brain is structured for right. accomplished more. greater workforce complexities. Obama showed a facility beyond leadership as usual. Bright. or are holding their own but never really feeling on top of things. hardworking. organizational.and left-brain leadership engagement • An understanding of how Obama’s background enables him to engage both sides of his brain with such ease and fluidity . Some leaders are reaching goals they never thought possible and are being asked yet for more. Other leaders are coming into broken situations confident they can turn things around but finding it more difficult than they thought.and left-brain thinking. The result was that a wider audience believed presidential candidate Obama was the best person to meet the diverse challenges of our time. Some simply cannot keep up with the rate and pace of change. the rules have changed.

and above all. but the appeal was as much about the man as it was about the milestone. an iterative leader. Obama was no doubt taking in the host of issues his nation. a case-study of a leader/exemplar as a development tool. problems. He listened. What specifically are the characteristics that enabled Obama to rise to such heights? Seven dimensions of the Obama phenomenon will be identified. “If you are walking down the right path and you’re willing to keep walking. Yes. He was leaving no stone unturned as he formulated his assessment. strategies that are more enlightened. Obama was no doubt gathering information. questioning his experience and resolve. This quiet strength is one contributor to Obama’s uncommon leadership ability. and Obama’s quiet strength enables him to garner that power. To begin we examine the Obama phenomenon. observed. issues. but also of patience. No direct collaborations were sought. Obama was in fact demonstrating a key leadership strong suit. looking for validations. thoughtful in his approach. Information is power. beginning with Obama’s vintage quiet strength. What was it precisely that enabled Obama to captivate so many so quickly? Think about it.”4 Obama walks down his proverbial paths assimilating information as he goes. its people. Obama’s quiet strength is one of not only reflection. polite and unassuming in demeanor. Such is a far better scenario than entering into a situation with one’s mind already made up and getting blindsided. what we notice at first blush. What such a leader uncovers through reflective study informs the base upon which strategies are built. and began what would be a lengthy discovery process. The book is apolitical in intent. and interconnections. it was historic. To initially lead from an inconspicuous posture affords a unique view of the other and of that around you. He is progressive. for that matter. It is how to assure that information comes the leader’s way. and. Record numbers around the globe tuned in to watch. He once said. and one who moves methodically toward a goal. While the naysayers and pundits reacted to Obama’s reserve. One and a half million people braved the January cold on Inauguration Day 2009 to be a part of Obama’s swearing in. he was in reflective mode. At First Blush When we first came to know Obama we noted a quiet strength.4 Right Brain/Left Brain President • An explanation of ten core leadership behaviors that cull and integrate our full brain ability—the right-brain/left-brain leadership model using President Obama as exemplar • Steps and tools for how you too can become more Obama-like in your leadership approaches —how you can extend your brain’s leadership ability What follows is an interpretation based on publicly available information. you’ll make progress. opportunities. It was this initial unobtrusive persona that compelled those around him to speak while he listened. Such thoughtfulness ensures first and foremost . eventually. the world was facing. We saw a man measured in his words.

Intelligence (IQ ) tests have numerous scales in order to garner a full view of one’s smarts. Obama was in fact now well past his fifteen minutes of fame and on his way to the journey of a lifetime. and if it can change a city. Obama has likened his progressive tact to building a house brick by brick. Being regarded as bright in IQ terms requires demonstration of ability across the intellectual spectrum. moving with ease forth and back between scholar and educator functions. And if a voice can change a room. We would refer to these qualities as thriving on knowledge and being a quick study. From these unassuming roots a movement took hold and grew in astonishing fashion. It shows you what one voice can do. He leverages knowledge to extend an already primed intellect. If you think about his tenure in politics. He was the first African American president of the Harvard Law Review. yet potent beginning. President. how well you reason. Consider the following example from his first prime-time press conference on February 9. from that assured place no goal is insurmountable. it can change a state. Such leaders know all too well that if you start at the appropriate point and move forward. in your opening remarks you talked about that if . and if it can change a country. his direction fueled by his own brand of intellect. we see that it is both his intellectual ability along with his intellectual outlook that set him apart. and then to president. it can change the world. A reporter was asking about the president’s plan to arrest the current financial crisis and questioning an aspect of Obama’s direction. how well short. presidential candidate. Virginia. it can change a nation.and longterm memory functions. What may be more germane. and what makes his brand of intellect unique with respect to leadership? He is a graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School. and fertile results. That one voice can change a room. So how bright is Obama. Virginia. How quickly a person can grasp new information. It is multidimensional. President Obama embraces learning. Intelligence is not a discrete trait. It allows for sound conclusions. and sort through social cues are some of the many IQ dimensions. A segment from Obama’s last rally of the 2008 election campaign in Manassas.The Obama Phenomenon 5 that the paths selected are the right ones. is his attitude about learning coupled with his ability to seek and rapidly assimilate broad-based information. a gentle. though. That’s how this thing started. further captures his step-by-step approach. but with a spark. “Mr. problem solve. “Here’s my point. 2009. We can make assumptions that Obama must possess a more than respectable IQ based on these accomplishments. it can change a city. effective planning. how he went from community organizer to Senator. Intelligence Personified Obama was off and running.”5 The Obama phenomenon began not with a flame. and if it change a state. Such learners make both great students and exemplary teachers. The actual question was. managing each expanded opportunity with impressive role command.

reducing investments. do you not want them saving it. He put the question into context: how and why the financial crisis began and the resulting snowball effect. it means putting forward investments that not only employ people immediately. and that’s not going to be sustainable. internalized his lessons. it means loosening up credit. His eagerness to consider new possibilities . concise. what we had was a crisis in the financial system. in fact the party now is over and so the sequence of how we’re approaching this is as follows: Our immediate job is to stop the downward spiral and that means putting money into consumers’ pockets. Now you are making a legitimate point that our savings rate has declined and this economy has been driven by consumer spending for a very long time. that will put enormous strains on the federal budget as well as the state budgets. Obama’s response showed that he had done his homework. Obama also demonstrated another intellectual quality—that of openness. And that by the way is important even if you are a fiscal conservative because the biggest problem we are going to have with our federal budget is that if we continue a situation where there are no tax revenues because economic growth is plummeting at the same time as we have more demands for unemployment insurance we’ve got more demands for people who have lost their health care. making layoffs which in turn made things worse. We heard. There is nothing that will limit intellectual capacity more than a closed mind. then over time other countries are going to get tired of lending us money and the party’s going to be over. a compelling. He then conceptualized the steps to recovery. more demand for food stamps. I don’t think it’s accurate to say that consumer spending got us into this mess. That led to a contraction of credit which in turn meant that businesses couldn’t make payroll or inventories which meant that everybody became uncertain about the future of the economy so people started making decisions accordingly.6 Right Brain/Left Brain President your plan works the way you want it to work it will increase consumer spending. While the preceding example shows solid comprehension and decision making. and in Obama we see much the opposite. So the most important thing we can do for our budget crisis right now is to make sure the economy doesn’t continue to tank and that’s why passing the economic recovery plan is the right thing we should do even though I recognize that it is expensive. Well first of all. If all we’re doing is spending and we’re not making things. in essence. What got us into this mess initially were banks taking exorbitant wild risks with other people’s money based on shaky assets and because of the enormous leverage where they had one dollar’s worth of assets and they were betting thirty dollars on that one dollar. and come to sound conclusions.6 The president’s reply walked us through the query in professorial style. but isn’t consumer spending or overspending how we got into this mess and if people get money back into their pockets. and detailed perspective. paying down debt first before they start spending money into the economy?” This was Obama’s response. but also lay the groundwork for economic growth.

8 On January 29. The way they can communicate a complex message in a very short space is remarkable. he extends beyond recognizing differences.”7 Some might view this music genre as something they either like or don’t like. Others might find it strange. to think about something by recognizing a value contained within it. Bush. Obama is anything but boundary-less. can he translate his intellect into action? From Intellect to Action On January 22. who was noted for passing fifteen major bills in three months during his first term as president. pushing top military leaders for a plan to withdraw combat troops from Iraq and issuing a string of orders to make government more open. 2009.” Other early actions taken by President Obama that were noted in same article included signing into law the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Considering sizable possibilities to the extent that Obama does shows accelerated right-brain thinking while advanced analytics points to a pronounced left brain at work as well. Now the question becomes.and left-brain thinking in order to glean the most that a circumstance has to offer. perhaps even offensive. His thinking moves fluidly from the divergent to the convergent— starting from a wide array of data points and ultimately boiling points down to a sensible conclusion. His consideration does not necessarily imply endorsement. but he is willing. nonetheless. In fact. describing Obama’s steps as a “burst out of the starting gate. for example. sending his $825 . 2009. the Canadian Press compared Obama’s action-oriented start to that of Franklin D.The Obama Phenomenon 7 expands his intellectual potential tenfold. the Los Angeles Times wrote. While some may be uneasy about a man in his position who contemplates with such range. George W. He finds utility where others might instead be dismissive. the article noted an impressive start ten days into his presidency. and context to build parameters and caveats upon which determinations are ultimately made. Reading the following statement that he made once about hip-hop music is a simplistic yet poignant illustration of this point: “The thing about hip-hop today is it’s smart. but he seems to then rely on proven theory. Roosevelt. Obama’s intellect has multiple distinct strong suits. how a liberal versus a conservative would view the world. He has the uncommon ability to both consider vast possibilities and apply high-level scrutiny. “In a grinding first full day as president. Barack Obama moved decisively to distance himself from the previous administration. He may cast a wide net of initial interest. Obama has a genuine appreciation for diversity in thought. it’s insightful. signing bills and executive orders that countered some of the work of his predecessor. Obama thinks in more objective terms to consider that which is outside the norm. He moves seamlessly between right. Obama also possesses an uncanny ability to truly appreciate the different or the unusual.” The article went on to list additional day-one actions by the president addressing a range of priorities at home and abroad. For Obama. reason.

From foreign policy to relationships with lawmakers at home to the economics of the nation and fiscal responsibility for his very own team. how the president’s thought process translates into action on a single issue is interesting. press conference illustrates this point. as well. history and traditions. Obama demonstrated early on that his academic nature does not preclude action. where we can directly engage with them. showing that he possessed not only diversity in thought—what he was willing to consider—but also diversity in what he was willing to commit to. They questioned his authority. too theoretical. that he would not be able to move from intellect to action.S. that their financing of terrorist organizations like Hezbollah and Hamas.8 Right Brain/Left Brain President billion stimulus package to Congress. In addition to acting with widened scope. that all those things create the possibility of destabilizing the region and are not only contrary to our interests but are contrary to the interests of international peace. 2009.9 While Obama’s intellect was well recognized during the campaign. granting a televised interview to the Dubaibased Al-Arabiya news network. their pursuit of a nuclear weapon. ordering the Transportation Department to come up with fuel-efficiency standards. many feared he was too intellectual. When he was asked about his position on Iran. sitting down with congressional Republicans and hosting a bipartisanship cocktail party at the White House. A second clip from Obama’s February 9. overturning the Bush administration’s ban on U. attacking a problem from two sides. the president replied with a two-pronged approach. We saw a man who thinks before he acts. My national security team is currently reviewing our existing Iran policy looking at areas where we can have constructive dialogue. Within his first few weeks in office we saw a flurry of activity across varied issues. and even relaxing the White House dress code. He seems to typically incorporate an action plan that is dual in nature. but that its actions over many years now have been unhelpful when it comes to promoting peace and prosperity both in the region. What I’ve also said is that we should take an approach with Iran that employs all of the resources at the United States disposal and that includes diplomacy. “What is your strategy for engaging Iran and when will you start to implement it? Will your timetable be affected at all by the Iranian elections and are you getting any indications that Iran is interested in a dialogue with the United States?” Consider the president’s response: I said during the campaign that Iran is a country that has extraordinary people. one who moves through an all-encompassing discovery process while entertaining divergent and even disparate views and who then takes action across a broad plain. The actual question was. My expectation is in the coming months we will . funding to international family planning organizations. Obama’s initial actions as president traversed multiple paths. freezing salaries of his staff. their bellicose language that they’ve used towards Israel. Obama took a series of specific steps covering an assortment of matters at hand. in his actions.

and naming special envoys for the Middle East and Afghanistan and Pakistan were areas of the president’s highest ratings. Likely his fervor and sheer optimism made us believe in the promise of . So there are going to be a set of objectives that we have in these conversations but I think that there’s the possibility at least that there could be a relationship of mutual respect and progress and I think if you look at how we’ve approached the Middle East. for the overall optimism level to be at 61 percent seems notable. was the new president’s approach received by the public? Did his initial actions resonate well with the people? In a January 29–February 1. There’s been a lot of mistrust built up over the years so it is not going to happen overnight and it is important that even as we engage in this direct diplomacy that we are very clear about certain deep concerns we have as a country. with Wall Street continuing to plummet. some of the interviews I’ve given. the appointment of George Mitchell as a special envoy to help deal with the Arab-Israeli situation. now it is time for Iran to send some signals that it wants to act differently as well and recognize that even as it has some rights as a member of the international community. 2009. Passion and Attitude Perhaps there is more to Obama’s high approval ratings. In the case of Iran. that he was initially on the right track. quickly translating those options into measured steps that address the situation from multiple sides. it indicates the degree to which we want to do things differently in the region. This two-pronged approach is not the usual politician flip-flopping on an issue. What of his passion and attitude? Given the state of the nation in February of 2009. that we’re clear about the fact that a nuclear Iran could set off an arms race in the region that would be profoundly destabilizing.The Obama Phenomenon 9 be looking for openings that can be created. limiting interrogation techniques on prisoners. the poll indicated that the president received respectable initial ratings. his overall job approval rating was 66 percent. That Iran understands that we find the funding of terrorist organizations unacceptable. he sees the need to both open a dialogue as well as to make clear certain expectations. referred to as strong overall approval. In summary. though. more businesses failing. with those rights comes responsibilities. How. He then begins to weigh his options. opportunities where we can be sitting across the table. Matters such as instituting higher fuel-efficiency standards. Gallup poll. but rather an insightful leader seeing the need to approach problems bilaterally. though.11 What can be concluded from early polling regarding his presidency was that Obama was off to a solid start in terms of the decisions he was making. face to face diplomatic overtures that will allow us to move our policies forward in a new direction.10 Obama intellectually comes to understand the situation from all angles. than his actions alone. tightening ethics rules for administration officials. and record unemployment. Perhaps Obama’s passion and enduring positive attitude were an added attraction.

but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers. against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. businesses shuttered. Yet.12 In the president’s opening inaugural remarks we experience a leader coming into his charge well aware of the challenges and intending to face those challenges . At these moments. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. and that the next generation must lower its sights. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land—a nagging fear that America’s decline is inevitable. the time has come to set aside childish things. Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. America: They will be met. So it has been. On this day. we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises. a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some. but in the words of Scripture. that for far too long have strangled our politics. Obama’s optimism can be bigger than life in what he projects can be achieved.10 Right Brain/Left Brain President good things to come. They are serious and they are many. subject to data and statistics. He conveys simply and to the point what he expects. That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. We remain a young nation. Our health care is too costly. and true to our founding documents. Obama seems a believer in the premise that in the darkest of times. Homes have been lost. all are free. and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness. But know this. These are the indicators of crisis. the recriminations and worn-out dogmas. America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office. while he is sure to stress the positive and the hopeful. At the same time he is sure to put us on notice about what we all need to do to contribute to the solution. to carry forward that precious gift. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit. our schools fail too many. and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet. Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. every so often. Our economy is badly weakened. We see a man who smiles and laughs and who relaxes the crowd. The following portion of Obama’s inaugural address typifies the attitude and passion from which he leads. the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. to choose our better history. there is always a way out and that we will be stronger for it. Like his thinking. Obama’s attitude is two-pronged. we gather because we have chosen hope over fear. but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Our nation is at war. So it must be with this generation of Americans. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. unity of purpose over conflict and discord. He reminds us that “yes we can” accomplish our goals. jobs shed. that noble idea. On this day. passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal.

His enthusiasm excites us as he leverages the full weight of history to stake his claim. and for what? We had been swindled by those who played an unsuspecting system for all it was worth. And that’s exactly the kind of disregard for the costs and consequences of their actions that brought about this crisis: a culture of narrow self-interest and short-term gain at the expense of everything else. He declared that if we were to move from where we were to where we needed to be. How could we begin to settle the personal toll and injustice that was at that time occurring? Many had lost their jobs and homes. it is hard to argue with. even for those who are most opposed. As I said last week. Obama’s brand of limit setting was and is productive. we’ve got to make certain that taxpayer funds are not subsidizing excessive compensation packages on Wall Street. we’ve got to restore trust. hat in hand. even as they paid themselves their customary lavish bonuses. It is meant to build us up rather than tear us down. We all need to take responsibility. more specifically. executive pay tied to government bailout moneys. as an imposed boundary. there is still the matter of reconciling all that had gone so terribly wrong. Done and said in this manner. Constructive Intolerance While Obama’s passion is exhilarating and his attitude instills promise. That’s shameful.The Obama Phenomenon 11 head-on. Better still. And in order to restore trust. referred to here as constructive intolerance. And this includes executives at major financial firms who turned to the American people. It is first and foremost a line in the sand being drawn. Passion and positive thinking alone would not suffice. Constructive intolerance is much like constructive criticism.13 Consider the following example of Obama’s constructive intolerance as he takes a stand on the controversial matter of executive pay. Others lost all or part of their life savings. when they were in trouble. The passion and attitude conveyed through his words unleash a resolve and confidence born from fundamental beliefs in the power of the human spirit. indicating that certain acts will no longer be permitted to occur. that’s the height of irresponsibility. My administration will do what it takes to restore our financial system.” Constructive intolerance is an assertive leadership action showing through both firm demarcation and rational argument why things must and will change. was also demonstrating formidability. . His “yes we can” persona is adopted as our own. But in order to restore our financial system. our recovery depends upon it. though. We frequently heard Obama relaying some version of the phrase “I will not tolerate this as president. Obama is announcing his decision for an executive salary cap. And so next week. Secretary Geithner will release a new strategy to get credit moving again—a strategy that will reflect the lessons of past mistakes while laying a foundation for the future. certain practices could no longer be tolerated. Obama.

But what gets people upset—and rightfully so—are executives being rewarded for failure. Obama’s position stated in this manner is fairly difficult to argue with. we remain at risk. fairness. it will come in the form of stock that can’t be paid up until taxpayers are paid back for their assistance.000—a fraction of the salaries that have been reported recently. He closes with a bottom line: what his administration is asking for. The book is about driving for results. We don’t disparage wealth. Constructive intolerance is a key component to great leadership. wrote a book called Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done. top executives at firms receiving extraordinary help from U. He calls out certain “shameful” self-serving practices and is explicit about what makes people most disgusted. and Ram Charan. what organizations and specifically leaders need to attend to in order to be successful. We believe that what we’ve laid out should be viewed as fair and embraced as basic common sense. we’re taking the air out of the golden parachute. and to do so with someone else’s money.S. It instills the fundamental accountability. the president walks us through a rationale that begins with what we need to know about the mistakes that were made and moves to the solution—in his mind the need to restore trust in our financial system as a precursor to restoring the system itself. And we believe that success should be rewarded. Companies receiving federal aid are going to have to disclose publicly all the perks and luxuries bestowed upon senior executives and provide an explanation to the taxpayers and to shareholders as to why these expenses are justified. former chairman and CEO of Honeywell International. And we’re putting a stop to these kinds of massive severance packages we’ve all read about with disgust. . Without certain boundaries and. For top executives to award themselves these kinds of compensation packages in the midst of this economic crisis is not only in bad taste —it’s a bad strategy — and I will not tolerate it as president. And if these executives receive any additional compensation. for these stakeholders to be realistic and to be a part of a logical solution. to have a select few reward themselves for failure.12 Right Brain/Left Brain President This is America. As part of the reforms we are announcing today. advisor to CEOs and top executives. We’re going to be demanding some restraint in exchange for federal aid—so that when firms seek new federal dollars. We’re asking these firms to take responsibility. to recognize the nature of this crisis and their role in it. especially when those rewards are subsidized by U. taxpayers. Larry Bossidy. Obama’s intent is to put the brakes on an out-of-control situation in productive fashion.14 In this example. and integrity necessary for bona fide success. taxpayers will have their compensation capped at $500. We don’t begrudge anybody for achieving success. Obama sets a firm limit. He is clear about his bottom line. without leaders themselves who are willing to properly open their eyes to issues such as these and to set and uphold limits. we won’t find them up to the same old tricks. provides a context and a rationale.S. more importantly.

Modeling seems an ingrained behavior for the president since it surfaced in a day-to-day aspect of his personal life. You may recall the moving line from Obama’s acceptance speech: “Sasha and Malia. Slowly. walked over to her. Momentary silence fell over the room. He had his initial direction sorted.The Obama Phenomenon 13 An interesting quote from their book is. This was genuine human connection. we came to know Obama as a compassionate and committed partner in our struggles. In looking initially to find a rescue puppy Obama rather matter-of-factly exhibited the community-minded values he wants others to be thinking about. “I am going to do my best. Obama’s intent to make the White House and other government buildings greener in support of energy conservation is another such example of his modeling. She was jobless and homeless. “Please help us. looked her in the eye. The president stopped for a moment. and you have earned the new puppy that’s coming with us to the White House. His Human Side On February 10. gender. asked the woman her name. As he moves further into his presidency. He seemingly had a firm grasp on the daunting tasks his administration was facing. and class to relate to a multitude of people. he is willing to model in himself what he expects of others. and it appeared also that both his head and his heart were in the right place. thoughtful candidate. the newly inaugurated president. Obama showed his willingness to demonstrate the behaviors he expected from others when at the outset of his term he froze pay increases for his own team. that distinguishes him. As the campaign wore on and later as he assumed office. visibly moved by the moment. the then president-elect stated that they would like to find a rescue animal. religion. not sympathy.” Then he did something more. followed by gracious applause. Florida.” 15 We see in Obama the makings of a leader who is willing to take a stand and not tolerate that which undermines fundamental and long-term success. was with a community hit hard by the economic downturn. He demonstrates time and time again a capacity for empathy.17 This was not political posturing. hugged the woman and gently kissed her on the cheek. Obama’s accentuated human qualities will afford the opportunity to foster renewed hope and personal accountability in the American people and to address problems at home and abroad that until now have seemed irreconcilable. Barack Obama. A woman stepped up to the microphone declaring her family’s desperation. Obama’s human side enables him to transcend age. at a town hall meeting in Fort Myers.”16 When first questioned about what breed of dog the Obamas were considering. and replied. We first knew Obama as a reserved. a deeper human side. “Leaders get the behavior they exhibit and tolerate. I love you both so much. race. . Extending from his professionally poised intellectual persona was a genuineness. The president. we were coming to understand a number of things about our new president.” she pleaded. Furthermore. 2009.

another of Obama’s admirable human qualities is his ability to admit mistakes. and walked us through his learning.14 Right Brain/Left Brain President Beyond compassion and empathy. when questioned about problems with Tom Daschle’s appointment. but also the politics which is going to be required to actually get it done. We also see a man who sees mistakes as an opportunity to learn. I think I made a mistake and I told Tom that. yet nonetheless revealing reference Obama made to how he would characterize this circumstance. Cooper: Do you think you’ve lost some of your moral high ground you set for yourself on Day 1? Obama: Well I think this was a mistake. on a CNN live interview with Anderson Cooper. as a fact of life. Some examples of Obama’s moral imperative include the following: • Obama points to the distortion and erosion in values in America’s governing systems and processes. “I think I screwed up. and in what works and what doesn’t. I take responsibility for the appointees. the president took full responsibility. one for powerful people and one for the ordinary folks who are working every day and paying their taxes. I think I screwed up and I take responsibility for it and we’re gonna make sure we fix it so it doesn’t happen again. What we see overall in terms of Obama’s human side is that he is grounded in morality and reason. calling Washington politics badly broken. In early February 2009. “What Washington needs is adult supervision”19 was one joking. • Obama asserts that the questionable treatment of prisoners of war is an inhumanity that cannot be justified. no defensiveness or excuses. With respect to Obama’s human side we see a man who possesses empathy and compassion. On February 3. in the difference between right and wrong. former Democratic leader Tom Daschle stepped down from nomination as Secretary of Health and Human Services due to irregularities with his past tax filings. admitted his mistake. 2009.” When was the last time we heard a prominent leader say that? The exchange with Anderson Cooper went as follows: Cooper: Do you feel you messed up in letting it get this far? Obama: Yes. Obama replied. But I think ultimately I campaigned on changing Washington and bottom up politics and I don’t want to send a message to the American people that there are two sets of standards. He understands it well as anybody. Cooper: What was your mistake —letting it get this far or should you have pulled it earlier? Obama: I think my mistake is not in selecting Tom originally because I think nobody was better qualified to deal with both the substance and policy of health care. as something we need to own up to. • Obama has described the difference between what he sees as free versus fair trade. . • Obama notes the inhumanity in health care as a privilege rather than a right.18 Stated simply and directly. one who is genuine in his commitment to help.

those whose qualities equate more with power. Power as an aspect of leadership is far more impactful in the long run than power as leadership in and of itself. disabled and not disabled—Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been a collection of Red States and Blue States: we are. Lakoff frames it around what he calls the Obama code. change has come to America. As such Obama represents a significant step change from usual high-level authorities. George Lakoff.The Obama Phenomenon 15 While many may agree with these ideals in theory. It’s the answer that led those who have been told for so long by so many to be cynical. It’s the answer spoken by young and old. It’s been a long time coming. gay. titled “The Seven Intellectual Underpinnings of the Obama Code.” The Lakoff article. Making History If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible. Obama’s human side is punctuated by morality. but tonight.” is an important read that helps shed light on the president’s moral grounding. tonight is your answer. how Obama communicates his moral vision. Latino. and always will be. Lastly. and fearful. the deep ideas are communicated unconsciously and automatically. the United States of America. by people who waited three hours and four hours. It’s the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen. Democrat and Republican. white. he connects with his audience using what cognitive scientists call the ‘cognitive unconscious. who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time. who still questions the power of our democracy. “Like other self-aware and highly articulate speakers. straight.’ Speaking naturally. Asian. because of what we did on this day. many for the very first time in their lives. Added to that one-two punch is someone who leads by example and owns up to his own mistakes. black. he lets his deepest ideas simply structure what he is saying. In many ways we see in Obama quintessential human qualities that when melded with his core leadership skills equate to fundamental greatness. writes of Obama’s moral imperative. If you follow him. making him someone we should be able to count on to do the right thing. Obama makes them the platform from which his policies will develop. Lakoff writes. because they believed that this time must be different.21 . and doubtful of what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.20 To sum up Obama’s human side we first would say that he is a sound and polished professional who also leads through true emotional connection. in this election. Native American. at this defining moment. that their voice could be that difference. professor of cognitive science and linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley. rich and poor. The Code is his most effective way to bring the country together around fundamental American values.

Marshals wounded by gunfire. graduating in 1963 with a degree in political science. they cared only that he did what was expected of him and did it well. I was expecting it. in fact it was a monumental civil rights event. Obama. lifestyle. sparking moving commentary from a man who had until that moment held the highest-ranking position in the United States for an African American. Meredith was denied admission twice. “My parents shared not only an improbable love.”24 History was made as an important milestone barrier in human existence was broken. 2008.”22 In his interview General Powell recounted memories of the army as a place where he was treated as an equal and thereby able to excel. Meredith went on to complete his education. a moving element of Obama’s remarkable appeal.S. forty-eight soldiers injured. It is a magnificent accomplishment and.S. The election of Barack Hussein Obama. He recalled his commanders telling him that they didn’t care about his background or race. What a great country America is. and on October 1. is the crowning glory on his leadership allure. Powell’s contemporary. I supported him. we did it. rising up against all odds to win the 2008 presidential election. and twenty-eight U. based on race. The Phenomenon Recapped There are seven distinct aspects of Obama’s appeal. Colin Powell was the first African American member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the first African American Secretary of State. and now. he was barred from entering Ole Miss. an African American with an unusual name. Obama’s election marked a dramatic step change in our civil rights movement. on November 4. Kennedy sent in federal troops and U. to name two of his distinguished accomplishments. early into his presidency. but it was still an electric shock. Illinois. as such. Obama commented.23 There have been countless Meredith-like instances in our lifetime — stories of inequality. or blessed. they shared an abiding faith in the possibilities of this nation. and President John F. was the first African American student to attend the University of Mississippi. my kids were crying and I thought. believing that in a tolerant America your name is no barrier to success. Riots ensued.16 Right Brain/Left Brain President Those infamous words were spoken by the first African American president of the United States in Chicago. 1962. gender. Think of the civil rights milestones Powell saw in his lifetime. They would give me an African name. Marshals to restore order. Meredith’s admission was far from routine. Barack. Just forty-some years ago James Meredith. General Powell had this to say on a CNN televised interview: “It hit me hard. gave healing impetus to the ongoing fight for equality. I was sitting in my chair. that have scarred our lives. The violence resulted in two people dead. he is holding onto and in fact growing that allure: .

It is a magnificent accomplishment and as such a moving element of Obama’s remarkable appeal. Better still. . He not only sees things from different perspectives but has an uncanny ability to appreciate the unusual. • His formidability—Obama demonstrated early on in his presidency that he was formidable. It was this initial unobtrusive persona that allowed those around him to speak and him to listen. • The nature of his intelligence—Obama’s eagerness to consider new possibilities expands his intellectual potential tenfold. a powerful one-two punch. • His passion and positive attitude—The passion and attitude Obama conveys unleash a resolve and confidence born from fundamental beliefs in the power of the human spirit. above all. He was measured in his words. polite and unassuming in demeanor. leading by example. to act beyond behavioral preferences with such facility? These are the questions to be answered next. He possesses a genuine appreciation for diversity. He weighs his options and quickly translates those options into measured steps that attack an issue from multiple sides. and. referred to as constructive intolerance. • He made history—The election of Barack Hussein Obama. certain actions could no longer be tolerated. 17 How then did Obama become who he is today? What is attributable to his makeup and what to his experiences? Why is Obama able to leverage his brain differently than perhaps the typical leader. He showed that if we were to move from where we were to where we wanted to go. gave great impetus to our ongoing global fight for equality. Added to that one-two punch is someone we can count on who is grounded in what’s right. He took note and began a lengthy discovery process of the complex issues his nation was facing. and who accepts and admits to his own mistakes. Obama’s brand of limit setting is productive.The Obama Phenomenon • An unassuming beginning—Obama came to us with a quiet strength. • His human qualities—Obama’s human side juxtaposes sound and polished professionalism with true emotional connection. thoughtful in his approach. • Actions we can support—Obama intellectually comes to understand situations from all angles. an African American with an unusual name.

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The two met. and married while both were students at the University of Hawaii. This very milieu. Distinctions and incongruities. on the other hand. convinced that with a bit of translation on my part the two worlds would eventually cohere. he was from two worlds. Each parent was notable in ability . there was also much in his lineage that was shared. I learned to slip back and forth between my black and white worlds. Obama’s father was a black man from a prominent Kenyan family. came from the more striking multifarious life circumstances surrounding his familial path. his was a life juxtaposed. In exploring the interplay of his heredity. In terms of the consistencies in Obama’s life. — Barack Obama1 A Life Juxtaposed In understanding how Barack Obama became the leader he is today there is much to sort through. Obama’s biracial background was his most defining contrast. what is referred to as nurture. In fact. She was an only child from a middle-class home. Certain stabilities were ever present while contradictions were posed to him at nearly every life juncture. As the preceding quote reflects. appears to have been a rich breeding ground for his unique leadership traits. Yet as far apart as those worlds were. what is referred to as nature. yet there were many others. the disparities and constants will be revealed. fell in love. His mother was a white woman born in the Midwest. with his life experiences.Chapter 2 The Nature / Nurture of Leadership As it was. understanding that each possessed its own language and customs and structures of meaning. the most pronounced is the fixed and central role his mother and her parents played. beginning with the complexities of his background. one of kindred links and vast distinctions. one requiring continuous reconciliation of what remained constant in his life with that which diverged.

While some individuals may have been lost in the complexities of such an uncharacteristic life. Barack grew up exposed to the nuances of culture from this very beginning. They are as follows: • • • • • What he inherited from and experienced through his parents The influences of his maternal grandparents The impact of his stepfather and experiences in Indonesia Education. and Boston. Sasha and Malia. though. basic background information may prove helpful. The extent to which our environment can impact our intellectual propensity is part of the larger deliberation. Obama had extraordinary inspirations to provide guidance and to feed his compelling potentials. As Obama’s life evolved he was faced with the isolation and inhumanity of racism along with the embrace and adoration of millions. Understanding both who Obama is and how he came to be engenders reverence for his uncommon brand of leadership. He attended college in California. To begin. and political parties with the aim of building unity. for example. and daughters. . Obama attended public. Theorists can agree. and faith Life with wife Michelle and their children The distinct configuration of these impacts allowed Obama to in fact coalesce a potent result. His life with wife. Throughout Obama ’s life he had only brief contact with his father and little connection to his father’s family. that our intelligence is to a great extent the result of our genes. peoples. is punctuated by the traditional family stability he himself had not experienced. private. Following his father’s death he journeyed to Kenya hoping to settle his heritage. five categories of influence are considered.2 Looking back over Barack Obama’s composite existence. Michelle. He was exposed further to diversity growing up in Hawaii amid mixed ethnic and social groups and living for four years as a young boy in Indonesia with his mother and Indonesian stepfather. In Obama ’s case.20 Right Brain/Left Brain President and perspective. He was exposed to varied faiths and religions and came ultimately to his own spiritual choice. New York. each locale and experience distinct. career. strong suits in what he inherited (intelligence-wise) and how his mind was encouraged make for nature/nurture conclusions to be more readily drawn. His career was an outgrowth of his own existence. and international schools and was for a time homeschooled by his mother as a supplement to his Indonesian education. reaching across communities. How do genetics and our environment work in consort to determine behavioral outcomes? The Luck of the Draw The precise formula for how much of our makeup is attributable to genetics versus the environment remains under debate.

Our genes are carried on chromosomes in pairs. We could carry a trait that is unexpressed in us per se. Intelligence is first of all multifaceted. making it more or less likely that a trait will be passed on. The sheer variation in numeric guesswork points out the complexities of it all. They are the result of multiple gene pairs and multifactorial traits. Still. those influenced by both genes and the environment. it is actually a collection of traits with multiple genes involved in its formulation. but the random nature of splitting that occurs during conception nets infinite trait possibilities. Intelligence is thought to be at least to some extent influenced by one’s environment.The Nature/Nurture of Leadership 21 With respect to our genetic inheritance we each possess a still undetermined number of genes. therefore. Intelligence is one such trait. As he is an only child but has several half-siblings. but that which is common across cultures as a result . Varied abilities make up one’s intelligence quotient (IQ). one pair part from one parent and one pair part from the other. and cultural heritage. Crossing over makes it virtually impossible for any two individuals. Ethology takes into account all aspects of one’s life while also striving to find not so much how we are different from one another.000 and as high as 100. Estimates range as low as 20. Certain characteristics are influenced by a single gene pair.000. to be genetically the same. With each step closer to understanding our full genome. This is why siblings possess as many disparities as they do likenesses. and for certain illnesses as well. with the exception of identical twins. As a result Obama may share certain traits with his parents and some perhaps with his grandparents. the luck of the draw. the study of behavior in the context of environment.3 Which factors may have contributed to Obama ’ s brain power. but remains a part of our makeup and therefore passes along to future generations. Opportunities afforded us along with the values and expectations of key figures can impact academic performance. examines interweaving aspects of one’s biological. the estimate adjusts up or down. Our genotype is our actual genetic composition. for example. An ethological perspective is important when examining Obama’s development. in all. Moments before actual conception. Some traits are dominant and some recessive. functional. while our phenotype represents our observable characteristics. Our genetic makeup is part of an intricate code to our traits. Ethology. his genetic code represents a one-ofa-kind constellation. he will share fewer traits with them. genetic configurations shuffle again in a dancelike process called crossing over. Behaviors and abilities are not as straightforward. A Sociocultural Context One’s makeup can be further configured based on the nature of traits themselves. and what is the nature of his varied mental abilities? These are two interesting queries to probe. Such is the case for many physical traits — eye and hair color.

reflects an ethological inclination. Learning language is one such example. when the environment has greater impact on our learning than at other times. Through the windows you are staring with fascination at three tiered steps piled with coins — quarters. Many social behaviors are also considered to be influenced by sensitive periods. the development of muscles in the larynx enables greater ease in the formation of uttered sounds. so be patient and play along. It is easier for a child to learn language at certain times. Someone with a more homogenous existence would have had less opportunity to develop such insights as intimately as he.5 Ethology looks also at certain times. for example. pushing the coins closer and closer to an edge. One arcade game stands out as an applicable analogy. Picture a large square machine with glass windows at eye level on all four sides. perhaps coinciding with specific aspects of physical maturation. if enough people believe in the truth of that proposition and act on it. .4 Ethology provides an interesting perspective when examining someone with Obama’ s diverse roots and encounters. This example is presented as a visualization exercise ( good too for brain development). ethology would zero in on commonality across Obama’s human experience. to be exact. The ethological perspective would factor into his genetic inheritance the adjustments he had to make in the context of a cross-cultural existence. Most importantly.6 It will be interesting to investigate which of Obama’s behaviors may have been impacted by such sensitive periods. and . that from unity we find salvation. but we can get something meaningful done for the people with whom we share this Earth . then we might not solve every problem. .22 Right Brain/Left Brain President of our overarching biological heritage. Nature / Nurture Simplified How then does the nature/nurture equation boil down to straightforward terms? As a child I spent summers at a beach community with many arcades and boardwalk entertainment venues nearby. . . . Using this game will more simply illustrates how nature /nurture dynamics occur. there ’s the United States of America. There is not a Black America and a White America and Latino America and Asian America. . Such a theoretical view could help explain the ultimate professional vision Obama came to both for his country and for the world. . In the following words spoken repeatedly during his campaign for the presidency. As coins pass over the edge they fall into a collection bucket as a player’ s winnings. Through his personal life path he had come to know the shared aims of people. called sensitive periods. The steps move back and forth independently. what binds us together is greater than what drives us apart. Obama ’ s outlook. It would acknowledge the struggles of a biracial existence. Obama makes the case for that which we all share: We have a stake in one another .

the configuration shifts and you stand a chance of winning some money. Influences. Stanley. Each time you play (adding in coins) it represents a life experience and/or a key influence (some good. or timing. his stepfather and time in Indonesia. Her middle name was Ann. her capacity for wonder. Obama’s life was such that his innate robust markers were complemented by key influences. and your prize is realized. and no doubt the challenge one faces growing up with an unusual name.The Nature/Nurture of Leadership 23 To play the game you insert quarters one at a time. —Barack Obama 7 Barack and his mother shared an enduring bond born from love. As play goes on and more coins drop. Michelle. and that what is best in me I owe to her. career. The quarters fall randomly onto one of the steps. (Stanley) Ann Dunham In my daughters I see her every day. changing the configuration further. Some quarters are bright and shiny ( representing positive traits) while others are dull or marred (representing negative traits). such as what we see from Obama’ s brand of leadership. As your coins are added in. come from precise and improbable combinations of strong innate markers/good genes (vast numbers of bright and shiny coins lined up close to the edge) along with frequent and diverse prompting from the environment (continuous plays combined with frequent accelerated jolts). . they represent your behaviors and abilities evolving in the context of culture and the environment. shared qualities. We begin first with Obama’s key orchestrator. Obama’s mother was named after her father. Each will be examined as related to an ultimate leadership impact whether from individuals. and faith. Experiences. some bad). I know that she was the kindest. Obama’s life with wife. his education. her joy. Think of the movement of the steps as your normal maturational process. as most everyone came to call her. Stanley Senior was apparently expecting a boy. experiences. Accelerated jolts symbolize sensitive periods —opportune life moments. Eventually quarters do fall over the edge. his maternal grandparents. The coins this machine came equipped with are in essence your single-gene expressed traits and multiple gene propensities. your development unfolding from birth through adulthood. and finally. most generous spirit I have ever known. and Moments We come now to Obama ’s five key influences — his parents. and moments. stocked with quarters. Exceptional behavioral qualities. and their children. his mother. circumstances. I won’t try to describe how deeply I mourn her passing still. as representative of your genetic makeup. moving coins closer still to the promised land. To increase the likelihood of a win. Think of one of these machines brand new. Quarters that fall over the edge become the manifestation of your behaviors and abilities. intermittent exaggerated movements are programmed in.

for his lessons. She worked hard to pass her academic ethic on to her son. and interminable resolve. While Ann was gentle at heart and viewed the world through an open lens. even tutoring him for a time while they lived in Indonesia. she was also forthright in her convictions. Independent judgment — be your own person. Obama references his mother ’s unwavering determination and rebut to her son’s objections as she worked with him tirelessly day in and day out to enhance his Indonesian education. relaying a potent and charming defense: “This is no picnic for me either. following a divorce from Barack’s father. He recalls that she was tenacious in her approach. say what you mean. after her marriage to Barack Obama Senior. Ann’s interests were less about her immediate social sphere and more about the issues facing humanity. Fairness — what is good for one is good for all. Oklahoma. Straight talk — be direct. Her colleagues and influences transcended race. She was seen by her peers as a forward thinker well beyond her years and time. form your own impressions. do not lie. compassion. Son Barack was born during the early part of her education.”10 Ann’s tact was notably effective. Not surprising that such a woman gave rise to a son whose vision was to change the world. Obama describes being awakened by his mother every morning at 4:00 a. where she remarried and had a second child.9 In addition to her basic values. She studied at the University of Hawaii and earned a PhD in anthropology.24 Right Brain/Left Brain President Stanley Ann’s challenge was compounded by the number of times she and her family moved. and perspective. In his autobiography. and quest for justice set her apart. and Hawaii. requiring introductions to a new group of snickering peers each time. Maya. She seemingly impressed her son with her passion and her perseverance. Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance. She worked in the field of rural development supporting human rights and the rights of women. Her intellect. Obama’s mother possessed a quiet strength. class. Obama relays that she taught him the following values: • • • • Honesty — plainly and simply. her career remained centered in Asia.m. not to mention her love and commitment. Ann and then six-year-old Barack moved to Indonesia. She provided disciplined instruction. She was both intellectually disposed and learning driven. . Texas. Ann’s name was far from her only distinction. Her perspective and concerns would ultimately take her to a life that transcended typical borders.8 Of his mother. Years later. unfazed by the resistance of an opposed youngster. Hers were not the usual teenage preoccupations. Though her second marriage ended in divorce as well. marked compassion. She lived twice each in Kansas and Washington and in California. buster. as we often heard Obama reference the moment along with his mother ’s direct quote in public addresses on the campaign trail.

His mother maintained amicable relationships with both former husbands. a teacher. He spoke of her unending compassion and thoughtfulness for others. From his mother ’s intellect. She sought to instill in her children enduring. so he himself was abandoned and raised by his stepmother. Barack Senior ’s mother left her husband and children.The Nature/Nurture of Leadership 25 In his second book. Barack Senior was a capable student chosen by his country’s government to study in the United States. the first of which was to his father’s world. and unfaltering love would spring crucial aspects of Obama’s character. where he earned a PhD. a protector. He relayed how committed and determined she was to meet her goals and how passionately she approached her causes. worldview.11 When reading Obama’s recollections of his mother one can’ t help but feel her as an inspiring presence. Obama described her valuescentric approach to life. From Stanley Ann ’s acceptance and tolerance her son’ s own empathic lens was roused. Obama’s appreciation of the unusual no doubt was born from his mother’s wonderment. her basic commitment to understand the plight of others. A leader at heart. From mother Ann. almost to a fault. He was later accepted with scholarships to both Harvard University and New York’s New School. He left his wife and two-year-old son Barack in Hawaii to attend Harvard. her benevolence. and transformational perspective. It would be difficult to not be stirred by such a person. The Audacity of Hope. Obama grew from a solid foundation and could ultimately chart a meaningful course.12 . At the University of Hawaii he was their first African student. he was the first president of the International Students Association. honesty. Barack Senior Barack Senior was described as a mischievous child and confident adult. He and Barack’s mother were by then divorced but maintained a friendship and bond. In doing so she paved the way for son Barack to assimilate that which his father and stepfather could offer and pass on. traits and perspectives that from a missing father or his stand-in are more typically thwarted. As a result of her maternal brand—that of a tender soul mate. He was the son of a tribal elder and prominent farmer. opening many doors. a man noted for being clear in his beliefs and able to hold true to them. She was both full of life and fascinated with its intricacies. He graduated in three years at the top of his class and was inducted into the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa society. Obama speaks more of the cherished role his mother played in who he had become. and integrity. positive impressions of their fathers. He returned to Kenya following his studies to support his country ’ s development. magnanimous spirit. and a champion both of him and for the world’s injustices. Obama would receive the necessary orientation to iteratively face and come to terms with the inconsistencies of his being.

Obama and his father would have only occasional written contact in the years to come. While most patrons were enjoying themselves. During that visit a particular event stood out in Obama’s recount. words. passionately about what all people have in common. Obama detailed a story about his father’s handling of racist comments at a local Waikiki bar. commanding presence. Obama described that his teacher. Anticipating his father’s appearance caused great angst for the young Obama. Obama came to believe the account was accurate.26 Right Brain/Left Brain President A defining account of his father’s demeanor was relayed in Obama’s autobiography. tribes. knowing his father was in the area. this story would repeat in memory and meaning for his son. This was a tale told to Obama by his grandparents and coincidentally confirmed by another source later on. Through his father’s fluidly expressed perspectives. the students’ imaginations were roused. Obama was then attending prep school Punahou Academy. and analogous logic. The instance took place one evening when Barack Senior joined his father-in-law and some friends for a quiet social respite. speaking directly and. and race distinctions. Told also in his memoirs. This man’s exact words were far cruder than my rendering.14 Interesting facts appeared to be carefully interwoven with dramatic appeal. not to mention his classmates’ reactions to his unfamiliar name. this time not a story he heard but an event Obama himself witnessed. however. confidence. requested that he come and speak at his class about life in Kenya. Barack Senior was able to draw in his listeners. to teach them of Kenyan culture and African landscapes and to interest them in the plight of his people. Instead. It was an interesting illustration if nothing else for how to keep your cool and take a leadership high road. a power was perhaps sparked in his son. Obama described further how his father ended with a unifying perspective. Over time. His adjustment to the school had been difficult amid social. Barack Senior used this encounter to positively sway rather than to avenge. We can envision a speaker of impressive wisdom. and fervor. yet someone also gentle in spirit. with talk of lions. Barack Senior quietly and politely approached the man in question and attempted to preach to him about the evils of his thinking and of what good can come when we respect one another. and gestures. The origin of Obama’s own inner spokesperson was being fashioned. sincerity. perhaps helping to shape a context and propensity for how discourse could be addressed. the event proved to be surprisingly interventional. Yet. and the like. one man blurted out his disgust with having to share his evening with a black man. one can assume. through the additional recollections of his . class.13 From this portrayal we picture a man who influences through knowledge. Their sense of wonder was heightened. fearing it would worsen the existing divide with his peers. Obama referenced how his father seemed able to quickly captivate his classmates through his presence. When Obama was ten years old his father came to Hawaii for a brief stay. As such. To everyone’ s surprise. The eloquence and magnetism we see in Obama today may in fact emanate from distinct paternal traits kindled in this sensitive moment. and positive ease. one able to express himself well in the moment.

first to a Kenyan woman. Stanley and Madeline Dunham appeared to be completely committed to their grandson. His grandfather was a salesman. respected those around them. were constant.The Nature/Nurture of Leadership 27 mother and grandparents Barack Senior’s favorable attributes would continue to be reinforced. As basic as they were in most respects. better able to press on. eventually becoming senior economist in the Kenyan Ministry of Finance. They were hardworking. He married three times. not the least of which is evident in the abandonment of his son. Theirs became the story of rather typical parents whose only child embarked on an atypical life. In a chronicle from that time Obama describes an urgency he felt to unify the pieces of his life. moving through such a chasm and emerging resolved. and his grandmother painstakingly worked her way up from secretary to first woman vice president of a local bank. a defining moment with respect to one’s personal honesty. One was adventurous. was a brilliant man. though. He was likely a serious student and a man of convictions. some of which were controversial and as such hampered his career. What else was known was that Barack Senior worked as an economist. Gramps and Toot Obama’s maternal grandparents.16 From a leadership perspective it speaks to Obama’s ability to confront and to reconcile trying circumstances. placed family first. and tried to set a good example for their daughter and grandchildren. He published various papers. Obama’s grandfather had a gregarious nature. speaks to leadership courage. articulate. and son Barack Obama was his only namesake.15 Upon hearing of his father’s death Obama made plans to journey to Kenya. They raised Obama for a time while his mother and half sister remained in Indonesia. He could be poised. Obama’s father. then to Obama ’s mother. it seems. existed within the confines of perhaps a restless discontent. loving figures in his life. whom he called Gramps and Toot. His merits. His grandparents’ lives reflected in so many ways what is good and basic about Americans. led decent lives. and then to an American he met while attending Harvard. his namesake left to contend with a father’s convoluted legacy. and charismatic. He had eight children. President Obama’s handling of this most personal struggle is a testament to his resolve and an indicator perhaps of his present-day ability to constructively and ably manage those who cross the line. to complete his own story by once and for all confronting both the void of his father’s neglect and the nature of Obama’s own ultimate ties. More poignantly. Barack Senior’s tragic 1982 death followed a series of misfortunes in his later life. nerve. We can see many of these positives in his son. they each possessed certain . Barack Senior’s ultimate personal and professional success was compromised. and insight. while his grandmother’s cornerstones were steadfastness and good old-fashioned common sense. He points to a need to face his circumstance and to find closure. the other tried and true.

His grandmother hailed that small part of her own Native American heritage. as he was called) had his mother by his side to brace the experience. sheltered somewhat from the scrutiny someone older would possess. He met Barack’s mother while studying for his master’s degree at the University of Hawaii. Indonesia itself.18 Of equal bearing. He saw immense poverty and deprivation. Their unobtrusive company over the course of Obama’s childhood may have braced periods of inner void. was Obama’s mother’s complementary support. Lolo taught his stepson how to pragmatically navigate life with an extraordinary cultural context as backdrop. He could take in much of Indonesia’s strife. when Barack was about age six to age ten. and even treacherous. It .S. Perhaps the fact that Obama was so young afforded him a more palpable view of the experience. From this origin. For several years. Lolo had firsthand experience with the stark realities of life. as interpreter and guide. Lolo himself had a traumatic past. their family home was destroyed. existence. Cherokee to be exact. It was Ann’s parents’ support of who she was and the life she chose that would act as a safety net of sorts for both her and her son. Lolo. “Who was my father. His father and brother were killed during the Indonesian national revolution. Obama’s grandparents also told stories that inadvertently provided answers to many of his unasked questions. He also had his stepfather. Theirs was a fascinating testament to both the intricacies of genetics and the power of close familial relationships. Obama’s time with Lolo and his mother in Indonesia may also have been important in another respect. This in and of itself must have been of great comfort. giving way to Ann’s defining characteristics. why did he and Mom get married?” may have filled a young Obama’s mind. a faraway place. was an extraordinary playground for a young boy. certain of life’s confusions were clarified. unfiltered. and through casual conversations with Gramps and Toot. primal. and habits. Obama’s grandfather wrote poetry and had a great sense of wonder.28 Right Brain/Left Brain President distinctions. what was he like. Indonesia was raw. He was described by Obama as a caring and committed presence. Questions like. In comparison to Obama’s U. that her family rebuffed. Lolo was the youngest of ten children. though. Gramps and Toot seemed there to catch him if he fell. What his mother had to offer in terms of nurturing and hope for how the world could be was coupled with Lolo’s insistence on how in fact it was. Lolo Soetoro. rituals.17 Special Man / Special Place Obama lived for several years with his mother and Indonesian stepfather. Young Barack (or Barry. They were a gentle push when he was apprehensive and a buffer against his overwhelming existential truths. Their collective nuances took hold in their daughter. and his mother was left to flee with her nine remaining children. While Obama lived with his mother and Lolo in Indonesia he himself witnessed certain forms of harshness and experienced unusual customs. As Obama walked the tightrope of his own reconciliatory process.

He took with him a responsible and respectable father figure’s perspective of the importance of inner strength. for a time. He had been living in Indonesia for three years when the epiphany occurred. and a man. such a need. shook Obama’s world. Obama’s initial discovery of prejudice may have shaken him in the moment. how she saw people. he would come to realize the limitations of his current knowledge base. While he respected his mother’s worldview. even by those with the best of intentions.20 From this harsh reality Obama was forced to think about learning in a different light. Responding favorably when seemingly prompted or pushed is what learning theorists refer to as readiness. he couldn’t help wondering why that position now seemed so incomplete. but the significant forces looking out for him ensured a foundation solid enough to withstand the inner quake. Certainly the picture of blacks and whites depicted by his family did not match up with this horrifying fact. A most striking account of his educational process is shown in how he first came to understand racism. He found out the hard way that facts could be skewed. In Lolo’s words. it would be up to him to ensure that the subject matter was both fully exposed and amply dissected. Readiness is about the circumstances under which . along with Lolo’s shoring of Obama’s fortitude. a leader. He stumbled onto a Life magazine and was looking at the photographs. Maya.”19 On Education From his initial educational experiences in Indonesia to his postgraduate schooling at Harvard. education. more to the point. Interested by one photo in particular. He was shocked to discover that the man was black and had undergone botched skin treatments to make himself appear white! The thought of such a process. While his mother’s embracing perspective could set foundational knowledge. each learning chapter chronicled Obama’s development as a student. her support. he began reading what he thought would be an article about a man who was gravely ill. Obama returned to Hawaii around his tenth birthday. Confronted with a startling reality. his mother wanting him to have the benefit of continued U. Though he kept his fears to himself he described the experience as forever changing his perspective. Obama contemplated the various maladies the man may have had. Obama describes that he and his mother were at her place of work and he was left to occupy himself in the library. Always. be clever and make peace with someone who is strong. Obama is in fact a student of life.The Nature/Nurture of Leadership 29 afforded Obama his only approximation to traditional family life as he lived with a mother and father and. or. And while his mother’s perspective may have been subjective. Obama’s then kindled critical thinking would prove to be his hardwired approach to life’s complexities. Knowledge forced the difficult questions and provided the critical answers. “If you can’t be strong. how perhaps you need to be empowered in your own learning process. perhaps readied Obama for life’s later challenges.S. with his new baby half sister. But always better to be strong yourself.

Obama would draw from the potent combination of past influences and present opportunities to begin to shape his future. Obama himself now readily engaged his audience just as his father once did. that which learning theorist Lev Semyonovich Vygotsky referred to as a Zone of Proximal Development. Perhaps at his disposal was the memory of his father’s address to Obama’s classmates long ago at Punahou. he found his time there painfully crystallizing. I heard a willingness to endure. beneath the ragged laughter. the passion in his voice. Upon entering Occidental College in Los Angeles. He heard promise.30 Right Brain/Left Brain President someone is able to take in knowledge. when listening to the singer. a leadership cornerstone of his today. Obama reports a period later on at Punahou Academy when he withdrew socially.”23 . Obama’s rich educational experiences in all included foreign. and private settings for elementary and secondary school and competitive colleges and universities. and he would frame his professional positioning. More importantly. His father’s influence. He was participating in a student rally and found himself front and center. confirmed while listening to an admired blues artist’s recording. speaking before a crowd for the first time. More specifically. His preparatory experience at Punahou Academy would serve not only to enrich his mind but also to bring his social and racial challenges to the forefront. would come to bear in Obama’s finding his own voice. Endure—and make music that wasn’t there before. Obama unleashed his own brand of expressive facility. One of only a few other black students. A young person’s college existence is a time for sorting a direction. Through the words chosen. His exact reference was this: “Her voice sounded different to me now. Obama relays this key moment as an awakening. Previously. Beneath the layers of hurt. Obama had his first foray into public speaking. he had heard despair and vulnerability in her voice. Obama was primed to handle this realization. homeschooled. Now he heard an inner strength.22 Obama’s undergraduate years would mark two notable leadership milestones. the first of many defining speaking engagements to follow. Vygotsky believed that under the right circumstances learning can hasten development. When you are on your own for the first time. Perhaps this moment was the beginning of his reflective nature. how he would make his life contribution. He would connect directly with a passion for public speaking. Until then he had felt constrained but was slowly evolving to see possibilities before him. and the emotional connection to his fellow students. while his mother’s humanitarian plight would contribute to Obama’s newfound direction. California. that of a captivating speaker.21 Though it may not have felt like it at the time. Though his mother and perhaps by Obama himself saw it as a low point. Obama was at a critical maturational point when he discovered the provocative Life magazine article. it may actually have been a time of healthy detachment and reflection as he continued sorting through the maze of his existence. academic and social experiences fuel personal and professional growth. it would become the basis for his evolution into the consummate thinker he is today. nudging one toward further knowledge when the matter under consideration is aimed just beyond one’s current scope.

relying instead on multiple forms of interpersonal and functional impact. another developmental milestone would occur. That event was Obama’s formal . to live where they lived and. In community organizing he would choose. through that connection. Obama was able to explore the bounds of his purpose and test his ability to inspire and make an impact. Obama would drive change in ingrained systems and mindsets and leverage the expanse of his knowledge base into plausible solutions. but he completed his degree. Community organizing is far from a glamorous line of work. As a community organizer Obama had to influence without rank. It doesn’t pay particularly well.24 On Faith Going back for a moment to the period just before Obama was to enter Harvard. deciding he wanted additional education. It carries with it little if any direct hierarchical authority. He had to work with little to no infrastructure and deliver results in spite of those limitations in order to establish basic credibility. someone others trusted and would aspire to be like. coalesce his primed right. It was through the role of community organizer that Obama would begin to. in effect. it was time to rise above his immediate scope and shed past lament. He had to demonstrate an understanding of the people’s circumstances and provide knowledge in a way that was accepted. yet it is actually a substantive vehicle for developing and exercising broad-based leadership skills. He had come from a long line of individuals steeped in convictions. beginning with its resource constraints. he left to attend Harvard Law School. To get anything accomplished you must be able to leverage marked networking and consensusbuilding skill. He had to become a role model. he would consider an outlook more future focused. learned first from his mother and reinforced from each key familial influence. impact their lives. Community organizing is atypically challenging in the intricacies of how one actually makes an impact. Obama began his work as a community organizer in Chicago. You must be able to inspire and engage. It is work that in many respects requires you to act from a wider leadership platform than if you had positional authority. as did his mother. and with limitless opportunities to choose from he came back to Chicago to continue the work he had begun there. Now was his time to leverage those forces into his own personal brand.The Nature/Nurture of Leadership 31 For Obama. to fit in and to redirect. The varying brands of determination. Obama opted to work in a setting where he could have direct impact on the people themselves. Many he worked with in Chicago thought he wouldn’t return. and after a time. born of prospects and fortitude. A Career Path Obama’s work as a community organizer would eventually follow. Through this work.and left-brain abilities into leadership strong suits. Instead. in their own unique way would pave a fresh path forward. a grassroots direction.

The Robinson family lived a decent. and a genuine sense of commitment to all that she does. He respects her as an intellectual partner. The definitive grounding we see in Michelle Robinson Obama emanates from her family. From that perspective Obama’s esteem seems in a . and now in his personal life. He has described the First Lady as the love of his life. in work. These likenesses indicate that Michelle Obama in fact epitomizes a modern-day feminine force. She represented everything he had come to cherish and appreciate. She frequently references the impact her family life had on her. humble life. She has been said to have the allure of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Not surprising that within the same time frame he fell in love with Michelle Robinson. Michelle Obama demonstrated her character depth and broad appeal.32 Right Brain/Left Brain President engagement in a religious faith. As part of his community organizing work. and the work /life ethic of Hillary Clinton. her parents committed to their marriage and children. He was a part of a community and he would in fact belong. He relays that through the preacher’s poignant message and the congregation’s moving embrace.25 Michelle Robinson Obama was coming into his own. Obama met Michelle the summer after his first year of law school while interning at the Chicago firm Michelle worked for. in faith. She is comfortable in her beauty.27 It is thought that you can judge the self-worth of an individual from the stability of the partner they commit to. one sees in the First Lady integrity. endured tough times. though she herself did not experience her spirituality through formal religion. as possessing deep beauty through and through. he sought a communal connection. Obama was soon after baptized into the Christian religion. Newscasters have commented on First Lady Michelle as collectively possessing traits of several former White House matriarchs. In his life history Obama describes one Sunday morning when he attended a particular church service. She grew up in a traditional household. the candor of Betty Ford. as a wife and mother. Obama found what he realized to be a missing element of his life. and equally at ease as an accomplished professional. Within a formal religious tradition he would find kinship. her soft side. So on that Sunday and in a specific church Obama embraced his faith. and through it all stayed true to each other. He had been raised to understand and appreciate all religions but not to subscribe to any one set of formal beliefs. an affiliation. Above all. and as an accomplished individual. how everyone seems to take to his wife so readily. he was reaching out to local churches. He referred to his mother as one of the most spiritual people he knew. the compassion of Rosalynn Carter. she in essence practiced her faith through her values.26 Early in her tenure as First Lady. a honed internal compass. Obama came to understand that unlike his mother. Instead. Obama revels at her appeal. As the service unfolded he found himself touched in a deeply personal way by the experience. He seemed clear in his desire to be connected.

behaviors. and eventual spiritual and family connections moved him through his self-discovery. This is where he would seat himself. Living in Indonesia with a loving family as a very young boy afforded him unique exposures through a palpable lens. professional life. Obama’s father may have made a significant impression through relayed family stories and on his lone visit. Experiences came into play through sensitive periods and readiness. Added to what were exceptional hardwired traits. All in all. As a young college student he drew from his father ’s past image as he took his first foray into public speaking. schooling.The Nature/Nurture of Leadership 33 very good place. Overall. and Barack Obama’s life would be complete. Stepfather Lolo Soetoro took on the role of a typically committed stepdad but did so in the context of his distinct culture. Obama embraced faith at a propitious moment. and comforted by faith and family. in contributing substantively and in legendary fashion. his ultimate inner strength was brought to life and his integrated rightand left-brain style thrived. With daughters Sasha and Malia they would carve out their future together. Obama’s maternal grandparents were rock solid in how they cared for their grandson. but by virtue of the continuous and devoted supports he could draw from. His ancestry and exposures are remarkably atypical as each significant influence presented a conundrum. Everything he came from and all he came to know pointed to the promise of renowned contribution. In addition to Obama’s primary influences there is also the timing of events to consider. His push to the presidency validated his professional reach as Obama became the next of history ’s groundbreaking leaders. Barack Senior’s lifelong absence left his son to reconcile a primal loss. yet she herself was a free spirit. Obama’s mother and he had an unbreakable bond. a chronology unfolded that led him to where he is today. he was able to firmly establish his identity and sort an ultimate life direction. His mother’s humanitarianism would move him to a world of potential contribution. What follows shows how Obama’s unusual life collage enables his brain to work precisely as it was intended to. Heritage Recapped Obama has had a less than ordinary life journey. he progressively built a leadership base from which to test and hone his values. . Obama’s work in community organizing helped not only to bring out his influencing skills. they themselves possessed certain distinctions. All in all. Grounded in learning. driven through work. Obama was stretched developmentally. Learning as he did about racism and from the context of his mother’s life perspectives set the tone for how he would become empowered in his own learning. Barack and Michelle Obama joined to build a family of their own. but also to affirm his plight. Obama’s childhood. however. His marriage to Michelle and his resulting fatherhood was his personal affirmation. While they led an average life. and abilities.

expression.and left-brain perspectives rather than through the cultivation of polarized camps. is reflective. able to plan. allowing for an interplay between both sides of the brain. careful scrutiny. logical. quantitative. and analysis. to become multidominant. The left brain reasons from part to whole and communicates in names and labels. Hemispheres of our mind—The brain is divided into two hemispheres: the left and the right. The following executive summary relays that knowledge: what leaders need to know about how our brain functions. 4. with creativity. and thinks of the world as it could be.and right-brain characteristics. reason. and holistic.32 The diversity in Obama. It is ordered. from a transformational perspective and from interpersonal connections. innovator. While certain preferences are rooted in one hemisphere or the other. It is where our verbal and analytical abilities come from. The right brain is concerned with future possibilities. 2. and. order.31 Obama leads from right-brain vision.30 Obama is adept at left-brain logic. Left brain —The left hemisphere or left brain is our grounded tactician. most importantly.and left-brain interplay — through diversity in experiences and actions. 3. or. He is very much attuned to the realities of the present. and practical.34 Right Brain/Left Brain President Leadership and the Brain There is much to understanding the human brain. Right brain —The right hemisphere or right brain is our strategist. Multidominance—We have the ability to develop strengths in both left. It helps us see things as they are. more to the point. each with areas of primary responsibility. . and closure. It reasons from whole to parts. and visionary. It controls intuitive and emotional thought. TEN-POINT EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 1. Each brain hemisphere controls specialized preferences in thinking and behaving.28 Obama’s life was one of interrelationships. The right hemisphere is imaginative. but what do we need to know about how the brain functions and develops that is specific to leadership. verbal expression. nonverbal.29 Obama’s is a perspective of unity and commonality. the brain’s tie-ins to leadership. and execute in the moment. He is open to disparate viewpoints and seeks ultimately to leverage diversity by bringing camps together to fully integrate thoughts. and with our interpersonal connections. our behavior is the result of a complex interplay among those constructs. A network of fibers connects one hemisphere to the other. The left brain controls sequential and linear thought. Our brain’s structure and function stresses interrelationships. It is concerned with facts. with change. discrete parts. the connection of each of these ten points to how our exemplar came to be. realistic. Interrelationships—While our brain is organized into specific structures. the information on the brain is broken down into ten basic facts. 5. full brain engagement comes through a cross-pollination of right. particular to leadership Obama-style? For simplicity. Multidominance grows out of continuous exposure to right.

can give either greater depth to a preferred style or complementary breadth to your overall approach. lends to his extraordinary multidominant facilities. the degree to which empathy informs our resulting communications and actions is what others are relating to. You must demonstrate your understanding through both words and actions to excel in our very social world. and moments. Additionally. 8.33 Obama has been engaged in a continuous alter-brain workout throughout the course of his life.The Nature/Nurture of Leadership hardwired and gained through distinct influences. An alterbrain behavior or experience is one that stretches your brain’s existing reach. since we are designed to be social creatures.35 Obama’s life continuously forced him to stretch himself beyond his comfort zone. Alter-brain behaviors — Leaders can develop their multidominance by engaging in alter-brain (diverse) behaviors and experiences. thereby making us more able to deal with change. Stepping out of your comfort zone — An alter-brain behavior. our brain being locked in habitual patterns makes it harder for the brain to embrace novelty. Introspection and reflection can enable us to stay grounded during emotionally triggering life events and can help us turn a critical moment from a potential threat to a development opportunity. encourages the brain’s natural synergistic process. stable presence in the face of turmoil. pushes us beyond our habitual ways of doing things and as such is equally brain enhancing. Based on the ten-point list of what leaders need to know about the brain.34 Novel learning was propelled by Obama’s mother’s intellectual wonder. we see potentials in Obama’s style and approach. More specifically.37 Obama’s heritage and upbringing fostered wellhoned empathy that reinforces his social/emotional success. His acumen with the work required of him in community organizing was the first true demonstration of his socio-emotional adeptness. Specifically. It is not enough to have good intent or to think you know what is best for those around you. She engendered in her son a passion for learning and a sense of marvel in the nuances of life. It has been suggested that when we use our brains to do new and different things. We also begin to recognize how his . trying a new way of responding. when accessed. Novel learning —An alter-brain experience is referred to as novel learning. 9. the many changes Obama encountered further propelled exposure to novelty in a most accelerated fashion. Novel learning. exposure to newness and diversity. sometimes encouraged by those around him and often out of sheer necessity. 10.36 Obama’s reflective nature affords him a grounded. 7. experiences. Conversely. Social/emotional brain—Recent findings about our social/emotional brain suggest just how pivotal our interactions are to a leader’s success. an alter-brain behavior is defined as a style shift resulting in a new action that. His rise to the very top of the leadership hill further reinforces how socio-emotionally adept he is. we increase its own processing options. Reflection and self-control —Stress and high-intensity moments can curtail our natural ability to extend beyond our preferences while also causing overreactions in the moment. Novel learning stimulates the brain to develop greater overall potentials. 35 6.

varied passed-on traits to a myriad of life encounters. The address centered on the global economic crisis. Rather. and social facility. When Obama faces conflict he is quick to call attention to common ground. changing it to perfect form. not only does the non-intuit become more intuitive. When we encourage the development of a weaker area. But I also know that every American who is sitting here tonight loves this country and wants it to succeed. and to strengthen its own distinctions through collaboration. each had certain common qualities—their intellect. beliefs. his stepfather. each shared certain values. we could say that what we see in Obama is a rare convergence of several distinct factions that received its potency because they came together all at once. the left and right hemisphere. each side of the brain has commonality —each contains facets of the other’s. The brain can do this because the two sides of the brain. on Obama’s five key influences. From a definitive set of strong. reflective inner strength. no doubt. When reading over the information on nature and nurture. for example. The human brain is structured to be synergistic.36 Right Brain/Left Brain President developmental conundrum actually poised him for leadership success. We can see evidence of Obama’s aligned brain functioning in his approach to conflict.38 Obama’s perfect leadership form comes from the constant synergies exerting force on his development along with the commonality contained within them. 2009. The result was a blend of driven resolve. you begin to see that Obama’s particular chance nature/nurture combination lent itself to the brain’s optimal development.and right-brain preferences to develop more fully and in consort. members of his African ancestry. his was a brain in constant expansion. not to exacerbate (as is the case in a perfect storm) but rather to embellish (leaving us a perfect form). for example. but other mental abilities improve as well. allowing left. Obama is a leader who is both grounded in the present and able to see the path forward. to work in a collaborative manner. I know that we haven’t agreed on every issue thus far. Note the following excerpt from his February 24. and marrying that to the ten-point summary of the brain. and their passion for human rights. and traits with others in Obama’s immediate circle. and. As different as they were from each other in so many ways. address to Congress. I know that. The president was outlining his initial plans and ended with an appeal to work together: Look. So was true of his grandparents. if we came to know them further. The result is full-force leadership. That must be the starting point for every debate we have in the com- . that is. As different as his parents were. A Leadership-Perfect Form If we put a positive spin on the popularized phrase perfect storm. intuitive thinking in someone driven more by logic. Delicately timed events and solid supports reinforced his brain’s enhancements. There are surely times in the future where we will part ways. are not simply two factions connected by fibers enabling them to share.

His most unusual life brain workout enables him to do what others seemingly don’t. Possibly his Achilles heel was that in the face of pervasive criticisms he became more steadfast in his beliefs. if we put our people back to work and restart the engine of our prosperity. possessing exceptional rightbrain strong suits. He was verbal and analytical. certain gaps can be noted. Under stress is precisely when Obama seems to expand his. Former president William Jefferson Clinton could be described as extraordinarily visionary.”40 Obama clearly has a natural ease with discourse. especially when his presidency faced its ultimate crisis. Talented leaders certainly possess both right. Clinton drew more from his right-brain mystique. Clinton was in many ways a brilliant leader. “something worthy to be remembered. and where we return after those debates are done. And if we do — if we come together and lift this nation from the depths of this crisis. When under stress this becomes even more apparent. More to the point. While high-level leaders can be adept at certain right. He was intuitive and holistic and thought of the world as it could be. He was more entrenched in the moment. His is a fully integrated right.”39 The president concluded his address stating that common ground would be the ultimate driver for this group in reaching its goal. He also had distinct left-brain talents. He tended to reason from part to whole and to communicate through labels. charismatic. his brain well able to process disparate thoughts and to look for ways to collaborate and reconcile.and left-brain approach. That is the foundation on which the American people expect us to build common ground. Would added left-brain grounding have been more to his benefit? In contrast to former president Clinton’s right-brain orientation. He was determined. a leader is less likely to shift style from right. in the words that are carved into this very chamber. and transformational.and left-brain behavioral spectrum. Bush could be characterized as left-brain driven. concerned with facts and scrutiny. if we confront without fear the challenges of our time and summon that enduring spirit of an America that does not quit. former president George W. Obama’s approach to conflict also involves inviting differing opinions. He was a strategist and an innovator. His brain and his outlook support a position of shared capability. then someday years from now our children can tell their children that this was the time when we performed.The Nature/Nurture of Leadership 37 ing months. what truly sets Obama apart is his apparent complete compliment of multidominant behaviors as applied directly to the way he leads. the point was made at the book’s outset that you will instead find that leaders get caught up in their preferences. however. the threat of impeachment. He is often heard saying that he welcomes opposing views and that “we must learn to disagree without being disagreeable.and left-brain abilities. Was his myopic stance the work of an overplayed left brain? . Leaders under stress tend to constrict their posture.and left-brain leadership abilities but are seldom adept across the full right.to left-brain thinking or vice versa with the ease that Obama does. Ultimately. though.

Leaders in particular will dig in rather than engage their brain power more fluidly. Another case in point could be seen in Senator John McCain’s tactics during the 2008 presidential campaign.38 Right Brain/Left Brain President A risk run by many if not most high-level leaders is to allow certain preferences to become their cornerstones. Obama. In effect. D. In times of stress we are all inclined to act out of habit. maverick style. There are countless ways to be judged at any given moment. Your appeal and your ability to connect takes place on a twenty-four/seven world stage. added grounding and formidability. McCain continued to lead from his preference. on the other hand. Leaders must operate with greater bandwidth in our high-tech/high-speed fishbowl of an existence. on the other hand. who was touted as a fellow maverick. rather than drawing upon a broader sphere of full-brain leadership attributes. Greater sensitivities apply with respect to communications and cultural contexts.C. while continuing the engaging style that was his hallmark. From that vantage point he vowed to fix a broken Washington. The race continued while concurrently. a new-age journalism. the ability to shift style not as an exception but as a rule. A resolve was heard in his voice. Obama appeared more diverse in ability. In essence they are acting from a set of identified strengths to excess (too much of a good thing ). Sarah Palin.and left-brain preferences with ease and agility. and solutions specific to new demands were added to his platform. McCain’s approach. Leaders today are also more exposed. impending economic catastrophe was upon us. though intensified. . He was seen as calm in the face of crisis and willing to step up during difficult times. Obama. to move forth and back from right. if you will. The public became unnerved. Leaders must possess further flexibility to draw from. Acting solely from one’s preferences will leave a leader coming up short. When the election intensified he stepped up references to a maverick approach. Everything a high-profile leader does and says can be easily broadcast for the world to see. and operating with faster and faster cycle times. What we have gained from the internet in convenience and opportunity has boomeranged back at leaders who must be ready to react. Obama’s extended stable and serious overtones afforded the opportunity for voters to experience him beyond charismatic. more interconnected. Decisions and actions are therefore scrutinized minute by minute. was nonetheless unchanged in breadth. In today’s world challenges are intensifying in complexity. intensifying his promise to fight for every American. Obama positioned himself to be seen as a leader able to make needed accommodations in response to unusual circumstances. a world that is more demanding. Alter-brain style shifts and additional traits poised him for broader appeal. His campaign cornerstone was his “maverick” style. we live in a different world. He selected a running mate. engendering greater respect for who he was. chose a counterbalance in Joe Biden.

behavioral. He is primed to address a multitude of issues from the intricate to the nefarious and to do so in our new-age interactive context. That is Obama’s leadership-perfect form. and traits as backdrop for the complete review of our exemplar. His style represents a working model for the dynamic interplay today’s leaders should aspire in order to meet the challenges of our time. We move next to the Right Brain/Left Brain Leadership Model. the fluidity with which Obama transitions between rightand left-brain abilities will be highlighted. . identifying ten guiding behaviors along with specific corresponding traits. President Obama’s leadership style will be examined relative to this right brain/left brain model. More importantly. the book will give specific steps for how you too can become more Obama-like in your leadership approaches.The Nature/Nurture of Leadership 39 Obama comes to his position with diversity not simply by virtue of his name and race. but in his fundamental leadership operating style. Following the review of behaviors and traits as they relate to President Obama.and left-brain leadership skill sets like we see in Obama. its format. demonstrating his abilities within each of its ten guiding behaviors. To lead the United States of America at precisely this moment in its history requires full-blown right. The remaining chapters will present a model for right brain/left brain leadership. His unusual leadership ability is a blend of expansive social. and intellectual reach. behaviors.

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Figure 3. You must be able to routinely extend from that foundation with diversity in both mindset and action. The what and how should ideally work in tandem. with equal consideration given to both.2 A model that focuses on a leader’s behaviors forces consideration beyond what a leader is doing—goals and objectives—to how a leader enacts such targets. the Right Brain/Left Brain Leadership Model identifies ten guiding leadership behaviors. A model to help frame such a full-spectrum leadership approach is one that draws from right.Chapter 3 Right. four of right-brain ability.and left-brain propensities. This chapter will review the model’s highlights and set the stage for a detailed review of President Obama’s right brain/left brain leadership. Instead you must see your inclinations as a foundation to build upon. In reality the most effective leaders consider behavior as integral to success. Typically the behavioral side of leadership is seen as a personal style separate from what one sets out to accomplish. four of left-brain ability. and two additional support behaviors. We ’ve gotta change the game. the leadership game has changed and leaders must change with it. such proclivities can no longer reflect your entire playbook. While it is important to lead based on your particular style. Translated into the language of leadership. . —Barack Obama1 A Leadership Model Aptly put in the preceding Obama quote. The Right Brain/Left Brain Leadership Model was first proposed in my book Right Brain/Left Brain Leadership: Shifting Style for Maximum Impact and is explained in its entirety in that text.and Left-Brain Potentials It ’s not just enough to change the players.1 shows the model’s guiding behaviors sorted by right and left abilities along with the two auxiliary behaviors.

well-being. and to help them take on responsibility Methodical: To plan well. to be the steward and the gauge Assertive: To be upfront. They are right. consistency. innovative. Savvy speaks to your image and to your ability to negotiate the ever-socrucial cultural landscape that you work from. and individuals relative to values. teams. to involve.and left-brain enhancing. to have the long-range view Innovative: To have an open mind and to be able to think creatively without restraint Transformational: To drive change in cultures. to validate. expressive.42 Right Brain/Left Brain President Figure 3. and stability. grounded. and to recognize others. and engaging. behaviors are methodical. and staying power. to be systematic and effectual in your approach to initiatives Expressive: To clearly communicate your thoughts both formally and informally while providing the necessary context Grounded: To act with integrity.and Left-Brain Ability When leading from the right brain. and determined to get the desired results . behaviors are strategic.1 Guiding Behaviors Sorted by Right. Resilient contributes to your health. and actions Engaging: To understand and work well with others. thoughts. Each behavior is defined as follows: Strategic: To be proactive and visionary. supporting your leadership ability by tending to you personally. Resilient and savvy are auxiliary behaviors. When leading from the left. transformational. and assertive. direct.

he also applied right-brain thinking to examine not merely how to arrest the present crisis. and mindset—your internal fortitude Savvy: To sense and respond appropriately to cultural climates. he did so. Right Brain / Left Brain: Counterintuitive As you begin to familiarize yourself with the model and how it can help direct you to broader impact. say. We see this right-brain orientation in Obama as he began his presidency. to get things done in a way that advances both you and those organizations you are affiliated with—your external influence Looking at the ten guiding leadership behaviors. for example. the orientation of the model seem counterintuitive—that’s intentional.and Left-Brain Potentials 43 Resilient: To possess the optimal physical and mental functioning. but to think through what it would take to ensure our ultimate financial solvency—how to not let this happen again. we need to lead from the right. more importantly. or are you more multidominant? Thinking back to the last difficult leadership situation you had to address. in reading. first consider the model’s title. however. Obama’s leftist label reflects his political party affiliation. .and left-brain abilities. As the title reflects. While he tended to the immediate he framed his actions from a right-brain transformational perspective.Right. He acted in the moment to ensure that the immediate crisis was well addressed. He projected years ahead to how the nation would have to be structured and function across a broad set of measures to truly secure our interests. leaders need to first look forward to the desired state in order to then tend effectively to the day-to-day. to thrive. He took office during the most tumultuous of economic times. would any of the behaviors that are not part of your usual way of functioning have helped you achieve a better result? These are the questions to consider as we continue our exploration. But why right brain/left brain leadership and not the other way around? Surely President Obama himself would prefer a model that leads from the left! Politics aside. The right brain in essence focuses on the future. where are your typical behavioral strengths? Which. To Obama’s credit. Effective leadership begins on the right-brain side of the thinking and acting equation. the model is built around our right. that is. while the left brain hones in on present realities. When it comes to Obama’s leadership he tends to initiate from the right—the brain right. The need during a crisis is to deal with that which is most pressing. From a leadership perspective. By turning his attention to the long term he envisioned what it would look like for us to be safe and. if any behaviors reflect your hard-core preferences? Do you tend to lead more from the left or the right. While we would orient from the left. drawing on our brain’s dualistic and synergistic nature. stamina.

Consider the following passage from his April 14. but is instead built by skilled. by sound investments that will spread opportunity at home and allow this nation to lead the world in the technologies.3 The president’s long-range view. he showed clear multidominant leadership ability by shifting in an integrated fashion between right-brain future prospects and left-brain present realities. I’ve talked a lot about the fundamental weakness in our economy that led us to this day of reckoning. And many Americans are simply wondering how all of our different programs and policies fit together in a single. But we also arrived here because of a fundamental weakness in our political system. reckless speculation. and discoveries that will shape the 21st century. That is the America I see. productive workers. His right-brain long-range view informed his immediate crisis response. I know that some have accused us of taking on too much at once. He worked from an accurate perception of the present as it related to the ultimate desired state. That is the future I know we can have. In the remainder of his address he spelled out how the nation came to its present catastrophe and how precisely his strategy would take the nation where it needed to be. innovations. I want every American to know that each action we take and each policy we pursue is driven by a larger vision of America’s future—a future where sustained economic growth creates good jobs and rising incomes. a future where prosperity is fueled not by excessive debt. we have responded to an extraordinary set of economic challenges with extraordinary action—action that has been unprecedented in both its scale and its speed. 2009. So today. . And I think even our critics would agree that at the very least. I want to talk about what we’ve done. He detailed three key responses to address the then current economic crisis along with five strategic pillars for longrange prosperity. I want to step back for a moment and explain our strategy as clearly as I can. why we’ve done it. overarching strategy that will move this economy from recession to recovery and ultimately to prosperity. and fleeing profit. and be honest about the pitfalls that may lay ahead. The president concluded his address with the following statements: This brings up one final point I’d like to make today.44 Right Brain/Left Brain President Though he came under criticism from some for being too farsighted during trying times. was informing his here-and-now (left-brain) actions. In just under three months. address at Georgetown University as Obama reflected on the first several months of his administration’s work: It has now been twelve weeks since my administration began. his right-brain thinking. and what we have left to do. Others believe we haven’t done enough. And most of all. we’ve been busy. I want to update you on the progress we’ve made.

Woven into his strategies were the methodical specifics of his plans—a three-pronged immediate response tied to five long-term strategies. The stakes are too high. His plans reflected innovation. confronting the flawed mindsets that his administration is committed to eliminating. and to the many generations whose lives will be affected for good or for ill because of what we do here. And that requires an extraordinary sense of responsibility—to ourselves. He demonstrated depth and breadth of ability across the brain-behavior spectrum. The left-brain behavior expressive was reflected in the clarity and detail with which he spoke. The challenges are too great. thoughts. . and transparency. The right-brain behaviors are for a leader. They were fresh and progressive. too many in Washington put off hard decisions for some other time on some other day. A Leader’s Line of SITE Looking more closely at the ten guiding leadership behaviors we begin with the right-brain behaviors. leading from the right. He began his address from that perspective. and insists on instant gratification in the form of immediate results or higher poll numbers. reaching out directly to his audience.and left-brain leadership behaviors exhibited by the president.and Left-Brain Potentials 45 For too long. When a crisis hits. stability. noting possible pitfalls or problems to come.Right. with everyone responding to the tempest of the moment until the furor has died away and the media coverage has moved on. From those possibilities opportunities for change are identified and buy-in is sought. instead of confronting the major challenges that will shape our future in a sustained and focused way. We also saw decided left-brain shifts. There’s been a tendency to score political points instead of rolling up sleeves to solve real problems. His overall tone was engaging. Surely he demonstrated the ability to be strategic. This one excerpt is consistent with the demeanor and tenor Obama showed throughout the early stages of his presidency. Right-brain guiding leadership behaviors are facilitators of a leader’s desired state. acting with consistency. This can’t be one of those times. to the men and women who sent us here. and actions. His right-brain behaviors are well in motion.4 Consider in this brief address the numerous right. The manner in which he constructed his address was transformational as he sought to drive change in values. It’s more than most congresses and most presidents have to deal with in a lifetime. I know how difficult it is for members of Congress in both parties to grapple with some of the big decisions we face right now. He was grounded. to take the long-range view. he was assertive. There is also an impatience that characterizes this town—an attention span that has only grown shorter with the twenty-four-hour news cycle. Lastly. looking out to possibilities. there’s all too often a lurch from shock to trance. But we have been called to govern in extraordinary times. The acronym for the right-brain behaviors is SITE (Strategic.

46 Right Brain/Left Brain President Innovative. you will also come to see the complexities of leveraging a particular leadership behavior. Chapter 4 will further and precisely detail Obama’s Line of SITE abilities. Think. Represented by the icon of a binocular. Through mastery of behavioral nuances the leader can attain depth competence. this time with the corresponding traits that detail each leadership behavior’s nuances. As such he is well able to then formulate transformation perspectives—how to effect needed change. Ideally. to past presidents’ reigns. Line of SITE behaviors enable the leader the view of looking out over the horizon to see the potentials as well as eminent threats. He can extend beyond what has occurred to what we should aspire toward. positions. and missed prospects. to have the long-range view. Obama’s scholarly penchants takes him to the study of relevant knowledge. he possesses the interpersonal ability to engage. Strategic behavioral traits are: • • • • • • • • • • Intuitive—knowing things instinctively Thoughtful—giving careful consideration Insightful—seeing clearly into the nature of complex subject matter Anticipatory—aware of the eminent Shrewd—clever and preemptive Big-picture oriented—taking extended aspects of a situation into account Global—seeking input that generates a worldwide perspective and application Holistic—taking all aspects of a situation into account Theoretical—able to speculate Conceptual—able to form parts into a whole Innovative: To have an open mind and to be able to think creatively without restraint. Line of SITE behaviors are defined again below. He solicits differing and expert opinions. for example. of right-brain behaviors as a leader’s Line of SITE. For now. then. Ten traits are provided for each of the leadership behaviors to show a complete range of qualities possible for a given behavior. Innovative behavioral traits are: • Pioneering—forging new ground • Risk-taking—taking a chance . accomplishments. using both past successes and failures to inform his thinking. He verses himself in a broad historic context and grounds himself in present truths.5 Obama has a keen ability to project ahead. and Engaging). As you examine overall behaviors and more specific component traits you can begin to get an appreciation for the full scope of each behavior’s potential impact. Strategic: To be proactive and visionary. but still in all. he himself possesses the intuition to take the final strategic leap. Transformational. Finally. They allow a leader to imagine a vision for the future.

especially into others’ thoughts Listening—paying attention for accurate understanding Respectful—having consideration for others Responsive—addressing the concerns of others Inclusive—involving everyone Collaborative—working along with others Empathic—understanding others’ perspectives Empowering—giving responsibility to others Charismatic—enthusing others through personal magnetism Motivational—inspiring others in positive action6 The MEGA Mind Represented by the icon of a magnifying glass. and actions.Right. monitoring. thoughts. and individuals relative to values. and driving the work in progress. Transformational behavioral traits are: • • • • • • • • • • Open to learning—interested in knowledge Assimilative—bringing people and constructs together Attuned—keyed into current realities Ambiguity-allowing—able to deal with the uncertainties of change Facilitative—operating as a catalyst Opportunity-conscious—looking for appropriate prospects Incremental—working progressively. to involve. When you are looking over you are organizing. You are communicating about the work and providing appropriate updates and specifics. Left-brain leadership . to validate. Engaging behavioral traits are: • • • • • • • • • • Inquisitive—probing further. and to recognize others and to help them take on responsibility. in small steps Adaptive—able to change Mentoring—able to teach and coach Alignment-driven—helping to unify others around directions and goals Engaging: To understand and work well with others.and Left-Brain Potentials • • • • • • • • Playful—fun-loving Creative –able to generate original ideas or concepts Novelty-seeking—interested in the new or unknown Imaginative—able to visualize and think about the unlikely Experimental—interested in trial and error Curious—eager to know Spontaneous—living in the moment Unconventional—willing to consider the unusual 47 Transformational: To drive change in cultures. the near term. the left-brain skill sets assume the view of looking over your world. teams. While looking over your charge you are concerned with present realities.

Methodical behavioral traits are: • • • • • • • • • • Task oriented—attentive to assignments Detail oriented—attentive to discrete parts of assignments Organized—orderly and systematic Effective—producing workable solutions and results Focused—able to establish and attend to priorities Procedural—using systems and processes Sequential—cognizant of the likely order of things Logical—rational and reasonable. He is analytical and able to work at the detail level. Left-brain leadership is about your in-the-moment planning. The MEGA Mind behaviors and corresponding traits are shown in their entirety as follows: Methodical: To plan well. and he seemed to pass these first-round confrontations. recognizing what makes the best sense Analytical—breaking an entity into its parts Factual—basing assertions on tangible data and evidence Expressive: To clearly communicate your thoughts both formally and informally while providing the necessary context. Expressive behavioral traits are: Prepared—giving the necessary forethought to formal and informal messages Articulate—able to write and speak with clarity Coherent—able to write and speak logically Concise—able to write and speak succinctly Erudite—able to express yourself from the basis of scholarly knowledge Presentable—having a professional presence and demeanor Passionate—having intensity and/or enthusiasm with respect to your subject matter • Personable—having an appropriately favorable demeanor • • • • • • • . His communication abilities are a trademark. Expressive. Grounded. Left-brain behaviors are your MEGA Mind. to be systematic and effectual in your approach to initiatives. The acronym for these behaviors is MEGA (Methodical. Along with his rightbrain strong suits Obama has specific left-brain leadership abilities as well. especially at this moment in time when public trust had been severely eroded. His ability to act from stability and integrity are acknowledged pluses. He is able to move from vision to plan. Obama’s resolve was tested a number of times early in his presidency. It is about what you say and how you say it. Chapter 5 will further and precisely detail Obama’s left-brain MEGA Mind. Left-brain skill sets help you to stabilize situations and reach ascribed goals.48 Right Brain/Left Brain President targets the sheer volume of a leader’s day-to-day tactical demands. and Assertive).

They assume the view of looking in at one’s own fortitude and influence as represented by the icon of a mirror. while acting with greater savvy enables you to understand which style shifts are required in any given situation. and stability. and determined to get the desired results. When properly leveraged. direct. The Plus Factors.Right. His swift ascent to the very top of the political ladder along with his historic . to be the steward and the gauge. As you become more resilient you are more able to act from a broader range of leadership styles. resilient and savvy. and attention to a greater good poise him well for certain resilient strong suits. Obama’s generally calm and encouraging demeanor.and Left-Brain Potentials • Persuasive—able to make a compelling point • Interesting—provoking thought and/or holding others’ attention 49 Grounded: To act with integrity. his acceptance of differences. consistency. Assertive behavioral traits are: • • • • • • • • • • Purposeful—determined and definite in your goals Confident—assured about your capability to reach desired goals Tenacious—unrelenting Driven—staying determined to reach goals and get results Delegating—able to assign and resource the work appropriately Decisive—able to make sound decisions Courageous—willing to face challenges and difficulties Candid—upfront and direct Confrontational—able to work through a conflict Closure-seeking—seeing things through and pushing for conclusions7 The Plus Factors The final two guiding leadership behaviors are called the Plus Factors. have an inward focus. Grounded behavioral traits are: • • • • • • • • • • Composed –able to control your emotions Approachable—having a manner that allows others to reach out to you Genuine—sincere Pragmatic—practical and realistic Cautious—sensible and careful Questioning—seeking assurances and/or getting to the bottom of issues Stable—steady and consistent in your views and approaches Loyal—committed to your people and responsibilities Established —having proven competence Trustworthy—able to be counted on Assertive: To be upfront. the Plus Factors are right-and left-brain enhancing.

50 Right Brain/Left Brain President success speaks to his savvy. accountable to a greater good • Physically fit—practicing sound lifestyle habits. Obama’s Plus Factor abilities will be examined fully in Chapter 6 of this book. and mindset—your internal fortitude. or involvements Promotive—effectively lobbying for your and others’ issues and recognition Assimilating—able to integrate into groups. teams. aware of and managing your health • Fulfilled—feeling a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction about your life • Relaxed—able to decompress from stress • Environmental—making nature a part of your personal and professional development Savvy: To sense and respond appropriately to cultural climates. The Plus Factors along with their corresponding traits are described as follows: Resilient: To possess the optimal physical and mental functioning. views. or cultures Visible—being regularly seen8 Model in Context The full model is displayed in Figure 3. block out distractions. to get things done in a way that advances both you and those organizations you are affiliated with— your external influence. Resilient behavioral traits are: • Positive—having constructive focus on opportunities and possibilities • Emotionally sound—able to cope with stress and difficulties as demonstrated by your behavior • Clear thinking—able to sort through confusions. stamina. and think freely • Tolerant—accepting of differences • Flexible—able to adjust or accommodate when necessary • Spiritual—seeing beyond yourself to how you contribute in a broader sense.2. Savvy behavioral traits are: • • • • • • • • • • Astute—perceptive concerning people and circumstances Diplomatic—using tact in your sensitive interactions Timely—aware of the right moment to make a point or deal with an issue Subtle—able to work indirectly to influence people and situations Culturally oriented—grounded in the culture of your group or organization and acting from that knowledge in how you influence those within that culture Networking—developing personal and professional relationships that are mutually beneficial Coalition-building—bringing together those who share your causes. There you see four key processes representing the what of leading as follows: .

Right. Obama assumed office during a global economic crisis that required aggressive and immediate attention along with multilevel collaboration at home and abroad. Figure 3.and Left-Brain Potentials • • • • Visioning—where you are headed Operationalizing—your plan Implementing—getting the desired results Declaring—reflecting on outcomes 51 These key processes reflect the context of the leader’s work.to left-brain abilities illustrate some of the limitless possibilities for shifting style from right. the guiding behaviors point us to the how. along with the four key processes. While the key processes represent the what of leadership. looking over. doing enough to keep the situation from worsening while acting with enough impact to begin to reverse looming threats. From the model you can now see. Dotted lines from right. and looking in. Such a circumstance required rapid incremental cycling through the key processes. His context was one of extreme urgency and unprecedented potential fallout.2 Right Brain/Left Brain Leadership Model (Complete) .to left-brain actions or vice versa to achieve maximum leadership impact. the ten guiding leadership behaviors sorted by positioning: looking out.

and engaging. Obama’s preferences in the behaviors strategic. for example. And I think that we have to make sure that we recognize that how we respond—intelligently. because we already have cases here in the United States.and second-tier behaviors can be seen in his initial handling of the H1N1 flu virus outbreak. at his 100th-day press conference Obama was asked. an enhancement occurs. psychologically interesting to those around you. One could see. An alter-brain behavior is a style shift resulting in a new action that. an adept communicator. Individual contributors find encouragement and added opportunities from varied orientations of a leader rather than leaders who are predictably monotonous in approach. and assertive (to be upfront. “With the flu outbreak spreading and worsening. and determined). when that might be appropriate. able to drive change and to draw others in.” Notice the range of behaviors demonstrated in his response. can you talk about whether you think it’s time to close the border with Mexico. this is a cause for deep concern. expressive. and whether—under what conditions you might consider quarantining.9 Think of alter-brain behaviors as making you more interesting to work with and as positively provocative of those around you. The breadth of his leadership is seen as he extends from his primary inclinations to act from a second tier of alterbrain behaviors. grounded (to act with stability). A dynamic interplay is created when you shift your style from right brain to left or vice versa. direct. for example. can give either greater depth to a preferred style or complementary breadth to your overall approach. transformational. 2009. meet more unconventional challenges. A dynamic interplay is a well-executed balancing act that generates healthy tension for others to respond to. when accessed. . based on science.52 Right Brain/Left Brain President Dynamic Interplays Referred to as a dynamic interplay. Others feel energized by a leader with diverse. When you shift style to access one of the model’s behaviors that is outside your usual mode of operating or seek to access traits not before part of your leadership repertoire. Well. I’ve consulted with our public health officials extensively. At this point they have not recommended a border closing. it would be akin to closing the barn door after the horses are out. On April 29. Dynamic interplays are motivational. and as a result achieve groundbreaking results. He is a visionary. who accesses certain engaging traits as well can ultimately expect more from those she is holding accountable since she is now involving and recognizing them as well. Obama’s easy access between first. you are accessing what is defined in the model as an alter-brain behavior. yin and yang behavioral reach. and what public health officials have to say—will determine in large part what happens. in some cases an hour—hour-to-hour basis. first of all. as I said. He can influence a wider audience. when a leader is based in his preferred style and able to access alternative means of impact. systematically. Obama shifts his style often and with ease to be methodical (to detail a plan). A typically assertive leader. on a day-to-day basis. but not panic. From their perspective.

His acknowledgments of those whose previous efforts advanced our present-day cause along with his requests to citizens to take . on a daily basis. we have to be cautious. they are all on the phone. just understanding that because this is a new strain. The key now. He showed assertive determination. with the Bush administration. For example. plans. newly installed Secretary Sebelius of Health and Human Services. Now that ’s why I asked for an additional $1. so that they ’re in place.5 billion so that we can make sure that everything is in place. like Tamiflu. then we might have to—then I think we wouldn’t see the kind of alert levels that we’re seeing. with the World Health Organization. that everybody responds appropriately when cases do come up. and individual families start taking very sensible precautions that—that can make a huge difference. I think. should a worst-case scenario play out. but it makes a huge difference. in the event that they ’re needed. essentially take out some additional insurance. don’t get on a— any system of public transportation where you’re confined and you could potentially spread the virus. If you are feeling certain flu symptoms. keep them out of school. If your child is sick. cover your mouth when you cough. Obama’s decisions and proactive measures reflect strategic prudence.and Left-Brain Potentials 53 We have ramped up screening efforts.Right. If you are sick. So we have to take additional precautions. Obama was grounded—noting a serious but not catastrophic circumstance and providing assurances of the vigilance with which the issue was being addressed.10 In his opening first few statements. that we’re allocating resources. So those are the steps that I think we need to take right now. to make sure that we had beefed up our infrastructure and our stockpiles of antiviral drugs. I know it sounds trivial. But understand that because this is a new strain. So the government is going to be doing everything that we can. with all public-health officials across the states. that we are able track them effectively. I do want to compliment Democrats and Republicans who worked diligently back in 2005 when the bird flu came up. as well as made sure that additional supplies are there on the border. If this was a strain that we were familiar with. we’ve got 50 million courses of antiviral drugs. stay home. But the most important thing right now that public health officials have indicated is that we treat this the same way that we would treat other flu outbreaks. He used clear expressive analogies and straightforward statements. And I think the Bush administration did a good job of creating the infrastructure so that we can respond. to coordinate and make sure that there’s timely reporting. we don’t yet know how it will respond to that. and precautions. don’t get on an airplane. that as new cases come up. is to make sure that we are maintaining great vigilance. so that we can prepare in the eventuality that we have to do more than we’re doing currently. He spoke to methodical details. Secretary Napolitano at Department of Homeland Security. our acting CDC director. We’re coordinating closely with state and local officials. for example. I was part of a group of legislators who worked. So wash your hands when you shake hands.

What I’ve said—and I will repeat—is that waterboarding violates our ideals and our values. Controversies concerning the president were typically centered on proposed government spending and the level of government involvement in business. many seemed at ease with Obama. Born from Culture Upon further examination of the Right Brain/Left Brain Model you see a pyramid at the center. that ’s the opinion of many who’ve examined the topic. Conversely. Obama continuously drew upon a wide range of guiding leadership behaviors and did so with seamless integration. but in terms of his leadership persona. you could see intentions that were aimed directly at our cultural disconnects. As he set his policies.54 Right Brain/Left Brain President specific precautions reflect an engaging posture. While the Republicans were being asked to reinvent the party’s culture. albeit enhanced interrogation techniques such as waterboarding. And that’s why I put an end to these practices. A leader’s primal audience is the cultural perspective from which he leads. The culture of their party—what they stood for. In Obama’s view the United States had strayed from its founding cultural principles. seemed more focused on the multiple facets to his leadership ability than on agreement or disagreement with specific decisions. I do believe that it is torture. criticism that seemed to center on Republicans’ continuing to act from an ingrained position. along with the ability to lead in the face of complex ambiguities. Times required greater breadth in perspective. I don’t think that’s just my opinion. This pyramid reflects the various audiences a leader must attend to and influence. in spite of the array of issues. Certainly there were policy disagreements. The public’s overall yardstick on the president’s success. whether regarding the potential pandemic or any one of a number of equally paramount issues. They were being called upon to redefine their values and approaches. Consider Obama’s response to a second question asked at his 100th-day press conference regarding the practice of torture. Culture is tied to values. however. Responding to the tumultuous climate at the outset of his presidency. I am absolutely convinced that it was the right thing to do—not because there might not have been information that was yielded by these various de- . how they would continue to make an impact—was called into question. Interesting to note was that there were relatively moderate criticisms of the president during his first 100 days. Obama was concerned about cultural matters in a different manner. and we as a nation were straying from ours. It needed to return to those principles. the Republican Party’s leadership was at that same time falling under pointed criticism. The Republicans’ entrenched stance was not boding well for them. The party was viewed by many as mired in their defeat and polarized in position. greater fluidity in thought and approach.

Obama’s intent to place culture front and center is an attempt to reright the ship. and bodies. And Churchill said. it may be harder. had 200 or so detainees. Self-serving perspectives in direct opposition to any lead culture undermine the fabric of its society.Right. that corrodes what ’swhat’s best in a people.” when the—the entire British—all of the British people were being subjected to unimaginable risk and threat. still a beacon to the world is that we are willing to hold true to our ideals. Teams and Individuals At the next level of the pyramid is the word teams. And it makes us—it puts us in a much stronger position to work with our allies in the kind of international coordinated intelligence activity that can shut down these networks. it takes away a critical recruitment tool that al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations have used to try to demonize the United States and justify the killing of civilians. The public saw the lack of cultural grounding and reacted. Obama must also work with . and over time. While the United States is made up of numerous cultural factions. not just when it’s easy. Leaders who tend to their audiences know full well that culture is primal to the work at hand. but because we could have gotten this information in other ways—in ways that were consistent with our values. you start taking shortcuts. It’s not surprising that public opinion of our Congress has steadily declined over the past several years. So this is a decision that I am very comfortable with. during World War II.and Left-Brain Potentials 55 tainees who were subjected to this treatment. The president’s teams include all branches of government. but failing to align through an overarching cultural imperative is another. even when it’s hard. The culture of a nation is no different. In some cases. and make us safer over the long term. even when we’re taking on an unscrupulous enemy. Party differences are one thing. Organizational cultures are most effective when they emanate from a single and unified point. And—and—and the reason was that Churchill understood. when London was being bombed to smithereens. from his own staff to Congress and federal and state government agencies.11 The president’s fundamental right-brain strategic intent and complementary left-brain assertive confrontation of the matter of torture is tied directly to the cultural realignment he is seeking. But part of what makes us. I was struck by an article that I was reading the other day talking about the fact that the British. because it will put us in a—in a position where we can still get information. At the same time. It corrodes the character of a country. I think. And—and so I strongly believe that the steps that we’ve taken to prevent these kind of enhanced interrogation techniques will make us stronger over the long term. there must be alignment with originating cultural premises. “We don’t torture. in ways that were consistent with who we are. offices. and I think the American people over time will recognize that it is better for us to stick to who we are.

is to be clear about what we can expect from him and equally clear about what he expects from us. let’s take a timeout on some of the political games. you know. we may not see all the consequences of that change a week from now or three months from now. focus our attention for at least this year.S.56 Right Brain/Left Brain President teams of international leaders as he did at the 2009 G-20 Economic Summit. He was asked what had troubled him most in his first 100 days in office. citizens. if we can move this big battleship a few degrees in a different direction. He is able to work with diverse groups. you know what. but ten years from now. to learn from and reconcile discrepant views. you know. Obama’s nature is fundamentally collaborative. one that fosters personal responsibility and accountability both of the leader and of the individuals a leader serves. For Obama. or twenty years from now. whether an individual is one of his own staff. This metaphor has been used before. Congress falls in line. that’s when health care started to become more efficient . From his response we see that there is more work to be done engaging Team D. but this—the ship of state is an ocean liner. but we are just part of a much broader tapestry of American life and there are a lot of different power centers. The top level of the pyramid represents the individuals a leader impacts. And so I can’t just press a button and suddenly have the bankers do exactly what I want—(laughter)—or— (chuckles)—or. And that hasn’t happened as much as I would have liked. That there is still a certain quotient of political posturing and bickering that takes place even when we’re in the middle of really big crises. These qualities bode well for someone who has complex teams to lead. I would like to think that everybody would say. a foreign leader. Here is his response. This is a refreshingly upfront perspective. Humbled by the—humbled by the fact that the presidency is extraordinarily powerful. turn on a switch and suddenly.C. I’d say less troubled but. and then we can start running for something next year. Obama’s tie to his citizens comes across in a follow-up to the question about what troubled him. individuals range from the array of people he interfaces with one-on-one along with the collective body of U. it’s not a speedboat. Obama’s response to a third question asked at his 100th-day press conference speaks poignantly to his perspective on teams. Obama’s position with respect to individuals. Here is his reply. And so. you know. our kids will be able to look back and say that was when we started getting serious about clean energy. listen hard to what other people have to say and coax folks in the right direction. what you do is to make your best arguments. you know.12 Leaders like Obama who are committed stewards are inclined to work through their teams. sobered by the fact that change in Washington comes slow. or one of us sitting at home watching him on television. The same reporter asked him what humbled him. And so the way we are constantly thinking about this issue of how to bring about the changes that the American people need is to— is to say.

I think. transformational. Turning specifically to Obama’s right-brain inclinations. works to build productive teams. . and engaging.13 Whether he is asking for our patience with the problems the nation is facing or asking us to cover our mouths when we cough to prevent the spread of the flu. I think. Chapter four4 will examine in greater depth Obama’s Line of SITE leadership—which traits he employs to be strategic. And—and so—I—I have a much longer time horizon than I think you do when you’re a candidate or if you’re listening. Obama well tends to the model’s cascading audiences. and ultimately attempts to engage individuals. innovative. by the American people who have shown extraordinary patience and. last.and Left-Brain Potentials 57 and affordable. Through this chapter’s cursory explanation of the model’s components and premises we see that Obama is overall on target in his leadership approach. to the media reportage on a day-to-day basis. that’s when we became serious about raising our standards in education. And I’m—I ’m humbled. Obama is clearly reaching out and connected to the individuals he leads in a more direct manner than others before him. He places cultural matters front and center.Right. a recognition that we’re not going to solve all these problems overnight.

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He can see the way forward. He can picture the possibilities. and light. motion. In the quote at the outset of this chapter. Such a leader works to chart his course in the most forward-thinking of directions. He notes that the people themselves had not given . . one much better than we had before. is the right brain at work. aware of their surroundings. . beginning with his honed strategic perspective. still believe in an America where anything’s possible—they just don’t think their leaders do. Think of the impetus such great strategic moments and minds have afforded us. What other visionaries stand out in your mind? Obama’s right-brain Line of SITE is well developed. a broad net of potential is cast. There was Christopher Columbus’s discovery of the new world. we see an important insight. Gandhi reframed human rights reform with the power of peaceful protest. They are perceptive and instinctive. From that sagacity comes comprehensive understanding and ultimately sound judgments about both the current and desired state. To be driven by what could be. Sir Isaac Newton gave us fundamental bases in mathematics. —Barack Obama1 A leader with a well developed Line of SITE is inclined to think in terms of possibilities. innovators like Michael Dell. Such a leader can take us to an expanded future state. Adept strategic thinkers also rely on a sixth sense to know the realities of the present. When a leader’s thought process is born of possibilities. a sign of the times as referenced by Obama. what we should aspire toward. They are not likely to misread the tea leaves or to underestimate obstacles and threats. More recently. and Steve Jobs drove the creation of technologies that have forever altered the way we think and live. Obama has keen vision and foresight.Chapter 4 Obama: Leading from the Right? Strategic Intent Americans . Bill Gates.

Obama should not be expected to ram things past the opposition. He would be more inclined to work progressively. He will keep his eye on the present as he considers the future and will right the ship as he goes. be visionary. and decide accordingly. strategy and patience. rebuild faith in government. carefully. The super-harged political machines are preying on those insecurities. about Obama’s strategic compass is that it will guide him aptly. he will need time to work these interrelated urgencies in consort. He will thoughtfully examine the circumstances around him. and at such a complicated and troubled time in our nation’s history. If he was to move the country from where it was toward change. To accomplish what he seems to be setting out after. he needed to reinstill faith in government. Each day it seems different circumstances are unfolding and Obama is being tested. toward the greater possibilities. according to Obama. He will not likely sway in reactive fashion. As we move through this section on strategic leadership you will come to see how the ten traits of this critical initiating leadership behavior are a natural part of Obama’s persona. In fact. He is not working in laundry list fashion. he will stay the course. playing them for all they are worth. but through a matrix that takes time. even in the face of an unnerved public. a matter that has brought heated debates to the forefront. What we are uncovering. work to settle the present.60 Right Brain/Left Brain President up. He leverages his strategic strong suits to accurately know the present and to progressively aspire toward an advanced state. This is the kind of leader you want in these most challenging times. those they empowered to represent them were. Obama is well rooted in that which is strategic. though. As some criticize him for taking on too much and others for not moving fast enough. for our nation’s leaders to redeem themselves in the eyes of the people. deliberate over impacts. Specifically. It is interesting to be writing about this president’s leadership ability as he sets out on his leadership journey. and systematically. One such sign of the time is health care. The people. she must draw from the following strategic leadership traits: • • • • • • Intuitive—knowing things instinctively Thoughtful—giving careful consideration Insightful—seeing clearly into the nature of complex subject matter Anticipatory—aware of the eminent Shrewd—clever and preemptive Big-picture-oriented—taking extended aspects of a situation into account . Obama’s strategic mindset was initially shaped by this foundational imperative. and tend to the plethora of pressing policy matters. He will instead continue to push on after his vision. to simultaneously realign our culture. were not standing in the way of the future. From that insight Obama recognized that while working toward next steps he must. People are becoming unnerved. in parallel path. To be strategic a leader must think in a proactive rather than reactive manner. there are concerns that the Obama administration is taking on too much. and have a long-range view.

the budget I submit will invest in the three areas that are absolutely critical to our economic future: energy. A surplus became an excuse to transfer wealth to the wealthy instead of an opportunity to invest in our future. In the wake of war and depression. landing on a strategy that is multipronged. to address the . and an explosion of technology that still shapes our world. even as it cuts back on programs we don’t need. From the turmoil of the Industrial Revolution came a system of public high schools that prepared our citizens for a new age. History reminds us that at every moment of economic upheaval and transformation. It created the conditions for thousands of entrepreneurs and new businesses to adapt and to thrive. and claimed opportunity from ordeal. and education. this nation has responded with bold action and big ideas. an American on the moon. Now we must be that nation again. health care. We can’t afford to ignore our long-term challenges. government didn’t supplant private enterprise. able to see clearly into the nature of complex subject matter. I reject the view that says our problems will simply take care of themselves. Well that day of reckoning has arrived. critical debates and difficult decisions were put off for some other time on some other day.2 In this excerpt we see several strategic traits in Obama. that says government has no role in laying the foundation for our common prosperity. or the next election. but to build a new foundation for lasting prosperity. People bought homes they knew they couldn’t afford from banks and lenders who pushed those bad loans anyway. That is why. For history tells a different story. where we failed to look beyond the next payment. it catalyzed private enterprise. the GI Bill sent a generation to college and created the largest middle class in history. Now is the time to act boldly and wisely—to not only revive this economy. address to Congress: We have lived through an era where too often short-term gains were prized over long-term prosperity. consider the following statement the new president made in his February 24. giving careful consideration to both how the country came to its current crisis and how our past approaches took us beyond our challenges to next levels of success. And all the while. He is holistic and conceptual. and the time to take charge of our future is here. the next quarter. we laid railroad tracks from one coast to another that spurred commerce and industry. He is thoughtful. In the midst of civil war.Obama • • • • Global—seeking input that generates a worldwide perspective and application Holistic—taking all aspects of a situation into account Theoretical—able to speculate Conceptual—able to form parts into a whole 61 Going back to the very start of Obama’s presidency. 2009. And a twilight struggle for freedom led to a nation of highways. Regulations were gutted for the sake of a quick profit at the expense of a healthy market. He is insightful. We are a nation that has seen promise amid peril. In each case.

We can’t continue to base our economy on reckless speculation and spending beyond our means. health care. And it will make our recovery more fragile and our future less secure. Instead. and not for yours. Rather than moving through the current economic crisis with a quick-fix or singular solution. The truth is that these problems in the financial market.3 In his speech to this key business audience. Putting off these investments for another four years or eight years or twelve years or twenty years would be to continue the same irresponsibility that led us to this point. I’m not choosing to address these additional challenges just because I feel like it. on businesses that are free to invest in the next big idea or breakthrough discovery. 2009. . at interrelated parts that must come together uniformly to secure future solvency. The final leg—education—aims to build and sustain our intellectual might while securing the growth. Now. and viable contributions of our young people. I’m here to start building an economy and a prosperity that lasts. we must build this recovery on a foundation that lasts—on a 21stcentury infrastructure and a green economy with lower health care costs that create millions of new jobs and new industries. on schools that prepare our children to compete and thrive. In a second example Obama continues to explain his overarching strategy for economic recovery with big-picture orientation. This crisis teaches us that such activity is not the creation of lasting wealth—it’s the illusion of prosperity. And we must not use the need to confront them as an excuse to keep ignoring the long-term threats to our prosperity: the cost of our health care and our oil addiction. One leg represents intent to decrease our dependence on foreign oil while also tending more directly to our environmental problems. Obama communicates a direction that takes multiple aspects of the current economic situation into account—a threelegged stool. Obama addresses members of the Business Roundtable on March 12. we cannot go back to endless cycles of bubble and bust. and education in tandem. our education deficit and our fiscal deficit. The second leg seeks to reform an inefficient and financially burdensome health-care system while ensuring inclusion of all citizens. We cannot wait to build this foundation. if you will. I’m doing so because they’re fundamental to our economic growth. And that’s a future I don’t accept—not for my children. I did not come here to pass our problems on to the next president or the next generation—I’m here to solve them.62 Right Brain/Left Brain President environment. are only part of what threatens our economy. or because I’m a glutton for punishment. independence. on bad credit and inflated home prices and over-leveraged banks. and it hurts us all in the end. It would be exactly what Washington has done for decades. You see. as acute and urgent as they are. and ensuring that we don’t have more crises like this in the future. Obama looks with vigilance at the whole of the nation.

”5 . and to get people back to work again. President: Well there is no doubt that we have not done a particularly effective job in sorting through who are truly dangerous individuals and who are swept up and we never did a good job of sorting through that. 2009. Now do these folks deserve Miranda rights—do they deserve to be treated like a shoplifter down the block? Of course not. in the next example we see additional nuances of Obama’s strategic thinking. He is theoretical and global— speculating how a change to our current practices can positively impact our position at home and abroad. to get businesses opening their doors again. What it has been is a great advertisement for anti-American sentiment which means there is constant effective recruitment of Arab fighters and Muslim fighters against us and our interests around the world. I think that the Vice President has been at the head of a movement whose notion is somehow that we can’t somehow reconcile our core values—our constitution—our belief that we don’t torture with our national security interests. seeing imminent favorable consequences of new actions— closing one aspect of anti-American sentiment. He is decidedly shrewd. clever and preemptive in attempting to reverse the tide of negative perceptions as it relates to United States’s image and safety. In a final example we see Obama once again leading from the strategic right.Obama 63 Moving from the economy. “I’ll tell you what has a significant impact on charitable giving. is a financial crisis in an economy that’s contracting. That’s why I said it’s going to take us a year. Then I think charities will do just fine. President: I fundamentally disagree with Dick Cheney. He looks at the situation carefully. This next example comes from a March 22. deliberate. Interviewer: Some of it being organized by at least a few people who have been released from Guantanamo. to get banks lending again. responsible decisions about how we approach the closing of Guantanamo? Absolutely. this time with respect to a national security matter. From his intuitive awareness Obama is able to be anticipatory. It hasn’t made us safer. 2009. interview on the television program 60 Minutes. With intuitive sense Obama notes probable fallout from staying the present course. The facts don’t marry him out. televised press conference about the impact of the Obama tax plan on charitable contributions from the wealthy—would the plan curtail giving? Obama replied. not surprising you know.4 Here you see more of Obama’s thoughtful consideration and insightful scrutiny. seeing beyond its discrete components to the nature and essence of the matter. Interviewer: A few weeks ago Vice President Cheney said essentially that your willingness to shut down Guantanamo and to change the way prisoners are treated and interrogated was making America weaker and more vulnerable to attack. He was questioned during a March 24. And so the most important thing that I can do for charitable giving is to fix the economy. when Obama was asked about his decision to shut down the Guantanamo prison and change the way prisoners are handled there. But are we going to have to make a series of careful.

to be playful or creative. —Barack Obama6 To think from one’s imagination is the hallmark of a right-brain innovative approach. to be curious. bursting with childlike wonder. While we come into the world wide-eyed. spontaneous. his artistic side remained. Traditional education favors structure over inventiveness. We are expected to fit in. or unconventional? These are not the typical adult emphases. Obama grew up encouraged to produce and to play—to accomplish and to marvel. we are encouraged to conform. not merely attend to its facade. on the other hand. and to invent. be serious. He is less inclined to react and more likely to seek alternative or novel solutions. . How many times throughout your life can you recall being encouraged to forge new ground. was socialized to innovate. Obama. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up. to experiment.64 Right Brain/Left Brain President Here we see another approach that extends beyond the immediate. to dream.”7 As adults. Yes we can. Obama pushes beyond his present existence to imagine what could be. He learned the importance of structure and discipline and also when it was time to stop and take in all that was around him. a trending away from surface remediation. More than most of us. He is phenomenological—seeking to comprehend the nature of an experience. and get our work done. tangible accomplishment is rewarded. He learned to open his mind up to a world waiting to be understood. An Innovative Approach A man touched down on the moon. . He learned how to suppose. he is a true innovator. his first response is to ponder it—to consider it in the broadest sense. his innovative sense was kept in the forefront and as a result. to overcome it rather than to reinvent our approach. a world was connected by our own science and imagination . When he finds himself lacking the wherewithal to push the creative envelope and/or when urgency is a factor he will bring in others who can get through the issue more fully and with efficiency. We see root cause thinking. a wall came down in Berlin. Instead of looking at one aspect of his tax plan he looks more broadly to the economy overall as the driver of discrete impacts. Propelled by vision and armed with a creative spirit all his own. coalescing high-powered think tanks to drive needed innovation. He grew up experiencing side by side the need to be both convergent and divergent in his thinking. Pablo Picasso once said. His strategic purpose can then guide the path chosen. When Obama encounters a problem. We are often taught discipline at the expense of ingenuity. a dead end. through his unusual life experiences and from the free-spirited character of his mother. The key point here is that he is both disposed to innovative thought and sees it as a valued step in one’s thinking process. . or an obstacle. “Every child is an artist. Most of us are typically socialized out of our creative sense. In each case in point Obama is able to read into a situation. In short. Obama will call upon experts. As leaders when we come up against a challenge or an obstacle we are often expected to push past it.

His inquisitiveness is fundamental to his personality. willing to consider the unusual as evidenced by his openness to people. if you will. these five ingrained innovative traits. When coupled with his other. Obama can shift his attention on impulse. novelty seeking. he will joke with the media or poke fun at himself in interviews. and ideas that are different from his own. in-the-moment thinking. participating in a heated political debate. Some could question whether such an attribute is presidential. In a sense. He is novelty seeking. his lightheartedness keeps his brain flexible. What we find is evidence of several innovative traits in how he interacts with others. curious. His approach to . and spontaneous. as well as unconventional. his inner child. Whether talking to a concerned citizen at a town hall meeting. This boylike quality is reflective of his innovative brain. “The most potent muse is that of our own inner child. more leaderly attributes. If you watch Obama he will seldom seem preoccupied. poise Obama for two more innovative traits. interested in the new and uncommon. He is completely focused on the situation at hand. His right-brain intensity fosters an absorbed concentration indicative of spontaneous. or getting to know Bo.Obama 65 The right-brain innovative behavior means to have an open mind and to be able to think creatively without restraint. that of being pioneering and risk taking. He is spontaneous. We saw evidence of Obama’s groundbreaking and venturesome sides surface as he took office. Creativity author Stephen Nachmanovitch said. but more from the standpoint of his ability to be fully engaged in the moment. In Obama’s case it is an endearing aspect of his relational depth. the new Obama family pet.”8Obama’s inner child has been continuously nurtured throughout his life and taught to coexist with and to enhance his adult executive brain. The traits of innovative leadership are: • • • • • • • • • • Pioneering—forging new ground Risk taking—taking a chance Playful—fun-loving Creative—able to generate original ideas or concepts Novelty seeking—interested in the new or unknown Imaginative—able to visualize and think about the unlikely Experimental—interested in trial and error Curious—eager to know Spontaneous—living in the moment Unconventional—willing to consider the unusual To begin to know Obama’s innovative nature we can look to certain aspects of his everyday actions. views. We also see that he is curious—he is eager to know and to understand. more fully and broadly engaged. unconventional. playful. less in the sense that he takes life as it comes (not something remotely possible for one in his position). We see it in what comes across at times as a genuinely playful interpersonal style. Obama’s playful side adds a good-humored quality that is refreshing in someone of his stature. More importantly.

this national security issue was again at the forefront of the news as President Obama and former vice president Dick Cheney battled through separate primetime televised addresses on the subject. I found it interesting to land on one concerning a national security matter. for example. health care. On May 21. ensuring that adequate monitoring and safety nets are in place. We see his imagination at play when we listen to him consider. we should also know that Obama is equally intent on guarding our safety. Obama pushes for advancement while keeping a safe tether. to generate novelty and original direction while scrutinizing such prospects every step of the way. Creativity was in play as well as fresh ideas. in matrixlike fashion. He opted to forge new ground in tackling long-standing issues such as the environment. to let his mind wonder what is possible. and education. showing Obama’s opposition to advanced interrogation techniques. This example was first introduced in the previous section on strategic leadership. along with the ever-pressing economic matters. He will throw out “for instances. we see Obama’s willingness to employ calculated trials to identify the most effective means of addressing never-before-seen economic threats. When looking for an example to use for this section on innovation. rather than work unilaterally. he is willing to attempt the untried.66 Right Brain/Left Brain President the myriad of issues he was facing was to work these challenges in consort. or in any high-level leader. Change will be an evolution. Obama’s stance demonstrates his innovative intent and right brain/left brain interplay. alternate energy sources. Even more unusual is his ability to integrate right. and solutions were sought while delving for cross-pollination of impacts. While we could feel at times as if we are gesturing out into the abyss. You will see how his right-brain innovative strong suits pave the way and how his left-brain prudence secures him. In an excerpt from his speech Obama had this to say: . Obama’s mandates to push the discovery envelope exhibits his commitment to innovation overall.and left-brain thinking. Of the remaining traits of innovative leadership. We see in Obama more of an innovative intent than one would typically find in a politician.and left-brain thinking herein. the risk that some would see it as moving too quickly or having too much on the proverbial plate. Obama’s position on the aspect of national security you are about to read is relevant to both his innovative intent and to the interplay of his right. for that matter. taking on each as a discrete matter. Obama’s ability to suppose demonstrates his innovative spirit. He took a calculated risk by adopting this integrated approach. It appears that he did so because he saw the interrelationships of the issues and therefore the potential for solutions on one front to impact another. 2009. With such leadership he will progressively get to the change he so intently campaigned on but at no time be endangered by it. not a revolution. Ironically. He balances trial and error with fierce left-brain scrutiny. He is imaginative in his ability to visualize the unlikely. Still. the ability to be experimental and imaginative.” leaving the true innovation to the scientists.

. . Unlike the Civil War or World War II. But I believe with every fiber of my being that in the long run we also cannot keep this country safe unless we enlist the power of our most fundamental values. They are the foundation of liberty and justice in this country. Now let me be clear: we are indeed at war with al Qaeda and its affiliates. . We are better protecting our border. that failed to use our values as a compass. and those that we capture—like other prisoners of war—must be prevented from attacking us again. . the Bill of Rights—are not simply words written into aging parchment. . And that is why I took several steps upon taking office to better protect the American people. . These steps are all critical to keeping America secure. . I want to be honest: this is the toughest issue we will face. fairness. We are going to exhaust every avenue that we have to prosecute those at Guantanamo who pose a danger to our country. First. As I said. dismantle. We are investing in the 21st-century military and intelligence capabilities that will allow us to stay one step ahead of a nimble enemy. Now. We have reenergized a global nonproliferation regime to deny the world’s most dangerous people access to the world’s deadliest weapons. and defeat al Qaeda and its affiliates. For reasons that I will explain. We are building new partnerships around the world to disrupt. The second decision that I made was to order the closing of the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay. . this generation faces a great test in the specter of terrorism. But we must do so with an abiding confidence in the rule of law and due process. For the first time since 2002. The documents that we hold in this very hall—the Declaration of Independence. we are providing the necessary resources and strategic direction to take the fight to the extremists who attacked us on 9/11 in Afghanistan and Pakistan.Obama 67 My single most important responsibility as president is to keep the American people safe . the decisions that were made over the last eight years established an ad hoc legal approach for fighting terrorism that was neither effective nor sustainable—a framework that failed to rely on our legal traditions and time-tested institutions. equality and dignity in the world . the Constitution. and launched an effort to secure all loose nuclear materials within four years. . However. and a light that shines for all who seek freedom. there remains the question of detainees at Guantanamo who cannot be prosecuted yet who pose a clear danger to the American people. The third decision that I made was to order a review of all the pending cases at Guantanamo. Finally. That is why my administration has begun to reshape these standards to ensure they are in line with the rule of law . . And we have renewed American diplomacy so that we once again have the strength and standing to truly lead the world . we must recognize that these detention policies cannot be unbounded. I am not going to release individuals who endanger the American people. I banned the use of so-called enhanced interrogation techniques by the United States of America. We do need to update our institutions to deal with this threat. in checks and balances and accountability. we cannot count on a surrender ceremony to bring . Al Qaeda terrorists and their affiliates are at war with the United States. . and increasing our preparedness for any future attack or natural disaster.

That will be the case a year from now. think of the imbedded aspects of innovation he applies. Obama leads from the right innovative brain. there are people plotting to take American lives. He must show good stewardship and trustworthiness. His left brain is telling him that he must instead be grounded. it requires different approaches. he must be imaginative—able to visualize and think about the unlikely. To win this war. Probably the biggest mistake we could make in defending ourselves against such an enemy would be to generalize a solution rather than to seek a solution that takes into consideration the distinctions and uniqueness of our adversaries. He would certainly have to be versed in the unconventional— the unusual—and to be novelty seeking—interested in the unknown—if he and those who work with him on this matter are ever to come to grips with precisely what they are dealing with. Neither I nor anyone else standing here today can say that there will not be another terrorist attack that takes American lives. He then shifts seamlessly between right-brain strategic and innovative thought to left-brain grounded actions. Obama’s desire to return us to our core values is in this instance a truly innovative position in that he is both pioneering and risk taking in attempting to reverse our present course. recognizing a new and complex threat. if we forge tough and durable approaches to fighting terrorism that are anchored in our timeless ideals. And I do know with certainty that we can defeat al Qaeda. Obama’s rightbrain innovative thinking is telling him that this is a different situation. But I can say with certainty that my administration—along with our extraordinary troops and the patriotic men and women who defend our national security—will do everything in our power to keep the American people safe. Right now. Such innovative positioning confirms his established strategic assumptions: that we must act from a position that builds our alliances. five years from now. Obama rejects reactive thinking. His unconventional thinking gives rise to certain understandings about the true nature of the situation. not just to our nation but to the world. endless possible scenarios would have to be surmised to remain ahead of this threat. In June 2009 Obama embarked on a tour of this region that culminated in a fifty-five-minute ad- . to return the country to its constitutional values.9 As you read over these passages from the president’s full address on national security. in distant training camps and in crowded cities. and they will never be able to do that if we stay true to who we are. not alienates us from them. Acknowledging that we are venturing into uncharted waters and fighting a new kind of enemy. approaches that must take into full account the nature of this enemy. and—in all probability—ten years from now. As Obama uses both sides of his brain in spontaneous fashion he is able to land on a position that returns the nation to the values it was founded upon. and as such. Because the terrorists can only succeed if they swell their ranks and alienate America from our allies.68 Right Brain/Left Brain President this journey to an end. If you need additional convincing about the innovative spirit of the president. look to what was being called an unprecedented Middle East effort.

front and center is the quote you see above. In a worldwide broadcast to two billion Muslims throughout the Arab and Muslim world. edition of Financial Times said. “The most powerful and persuasive speech everby any American president to the Muslim world. improving our . A Transformational Imperative I’m asking you to believe not just in my ability to bring change to Washington . With artful sensitivity he navigated through the minefields lettered with cultural explosive devices and politic-religious booby traps. Next to the Web site’s logo is the title “Organizing for America. A leap of faith is required to appreciate the power in Obama’s innovative perspective. Thus far we see that Obama has pronounced strengths in the right-brain behaviors. .Obama 69 dress at Cairo University in Egypt. Specifically we see the incremental effect when he not only draws from multiple right-brain strengths but then shifts with ease to incorporate left-brain strong suits as well. strategic and innovative. as is seen here. The fact that his innovative side is predicated upon by sound strategic thinking and modulated by solid analytical scrutiny makes his brand of innovation a secure proposition. For now keep in mind the crucial role innovation plays in a leader’s overall impact. With this array of behavioral abilities he is well able to set the groundwork for transformation. Critiques following the president’s speech were resoundingly positive.”11 Obama’s milestone Cairo University address will be covered in greater detail later on in the chapter. it may seem at times as if Obama’s reasoning is unsubstantiated or driven solely by personal beliefs. His overall innovative facility made it possible for him to see the full depth of his challenge and to therefore prepare fully for the event. As an example of the praise. —Barack Obama12 When you go to Barack Obama’s official Web site. True innovators like Obama are connecting the hypothetical dots in such a way that new and different opportunities can be unearthed. while his innovative side pushes him further to seek and craft inventive solutions. His pioneering and risk taking sides took him to the international region that is for the United States the most complicated sell. “The speech was brilliant. the June 5.”10 CNN senior political analyst David Gergen reported. For those less creatively inclined. BarackObama.” As you continue to browse the site you see listed the issues that are on the president’s agenda—reforming the health care system.com. I’m asking you to believe in yours. They are generating scenarios and taking steps to push beyond the conventional. the president sought to recast the United States’ global image and perspective. those more tangible in nature. . 2009. His right-brain strategic purpose and left-brain grounded intent pave the way. The fact that Obama is somewhat unique in that he appears prewired to innovate—it is second nature to him—makes him at ease with what may seem for many of us intangible. dodging ambushes without evading the issues.

He greets them in their vernacular. especially improving their appearance or usefulness. In Obama’s case he can communicate to the world and to the people before him that he knows how we arrived at this juncture. we can see numerous transformational traits portrayed.13 Barack Obama is aggressively seeking to transform America. Following you will find the opening paragraph of his address. and individuals relative to values. candid story. and the hospitality of the people of Egypt. balanced. Looking once again to the president’s June 4. Obama continues: . recasting our global image. I am grateful for your hospitality. As his speech continues he shows more of how he is open to learning. He can build trust and respect based on his factually accurate. Transformational leadership traits are: • • • • • • • • • • Open to learning—interested in knowledge Assimilative—bringing people and constructs together Attuned—keyed into current realities Ambiguity allowing—able to deal with the uncertainties of change Facilitative—operating as a catalyst Opportunity conscious—looking for appropriate prospects Incremental—working progressively. For Obama transformation is an imperative.70 Right Brain/Left Brain President education system. I am honored to be in the timeless city of Cairo. He lets the audience know that he has taken the time to be familiar with his host. speech at Cairo University. and for over a century. you represent the harmony between tradition and progress. The right-brain guiding leadership behavior transformational means to drive change in cultures. For over a thousand years. 2009. He does so by the sheer facts and history he conveys and through the context he is able to set.14 In his brief beginning sentences Obama demonstrates his star pupil status. Through information power you can demonstrate credibility in understanding. and to be hosted by two remarkable institutions. He comes into every new situation well studied. The actual definition of the word transformational is to change somebody or something completely. and actions. reclaiming Washington. Through this knowledge-based skill you can convey to those you seek to enlist that you get it. and a greeting of peace from Muslim communities in my country: assalaamu alaykum. I am also proud to carry with me the goodwill of the American people. Together. Cairo University has been a source of Egypt’s advancement. in small steps Adaptive—able to change Mentoring—able to teach and coach Alignment driven—helping to unify others around directions and goals Let us examine Obama’s fit as an agent of change. teams. and rethinking approaches to the environment and to energy sources. thoughts. Al-Azhar has stood as a beacon of Islamic learning.

or whether we commit ourselves to an effort—a sustained effort—to find common ground. In the closing paragraphs of Obama’s Cairo address we see additional facets of his transformational ability. to focus on the future we seek for our children. circumstances. The attacks of September 11th. the sweeping change brought by modernity and globalization led many Muslims to view the West as hostile to the traditions of Islam. not just the easy path. instead. and to respect the dignity of all human beings. This cycle of suspicion and discord must end. 2001. But we should choose the right path. we will empower those who sow hatred rather than peace. The relationship between Islam and the West includes centuries of coexistence and cooperation. He comprehensively references specific recent conflicts. and issues. More recently. but also conflict and religious wars. and who promote conflict rather than the cooperation that can help all of our people achieve justice and prosperity. This has bred more fear and mistrust. It is easier to start wars than to end them. It’s a belief that pulsed in the cradle of civilization. There is also one rule that lies at the heart of every religion—that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. and a Cold War in which Muslim-majority countries were too often treated as proxies without regard to their own aspirations. . factual depictions of a changing world are chronicled. tension has been fed by colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims. that isn’t Christian. and the continued efforts of these extremists to engage in violence against civilians have led some in my country to view Islam as inevitably hostile not only to America and Western countries. So long as our relationship is defined by our differences. The question is whether we spend that time focused on what pushes us apart. and that still beats in the heart of billions. It is easier to blame others than to look inward. It’s a faith in other people.15 Drawing from an established and masterfully unbiased learning foundation. or Muslim or Jew. This truth transcends nations and peoples—a belief that isn’t new. He concludes his address with the following remarks: All of us share this world for but a brief moment in time. and it’s what brought me here today. that isn’t black or white or brown. Violent extremists have exploited these tensions in a small but potent minority of Muslims. Moreover. An evolution of circumstance is described. looking for appropriate prospects through which to convey his messages of change. His presence in Cairo along with the words spoken demonstrate his assimilative side—his intent on bringing people and constructs together—as well as his facilitative manner— his ability to operate as a catalyst. Obama’s statements show not only solid historical foundation but that he is attuned to current realities as well. we find the compelling case for change is more readily set and considered.Obama 71 We meet at a time of tension between the United States and Muslims around the world—tension rooted in historical forces that go beyond any current policy debate. but also to human rights. to see what is different about someone than to find the things we share. Blame is not assigned. With this as with many of his public appearances Obama shows that he is opportunity conscious.

our mastery of pens and printing. As the Holy Koran tells us. “O mankind! We have created you male and a female.” That is what I will try to do—to speak the truth as best I can. to learn from each other. As a student of history.” The people of the world can live together in peace. It was Islam—at places like Al-Azhar University—that carried the light of learning through so many centuries. knowing that change comes . It was innovation in Muslim communities that developed the order of algebra. Islamic culture has given us majestic arches and soaring spires. seeking to unify his global listeners around his directions and goals. Obama then moved to speak from his heart and from his own personal and professional experiences to convey his passion and hope for building new bonds and appreciations between groups currently divided. humbled by the task before us. keeping in mind what has been written. but only if we have the courage to make a new beginning.17 He is clearly alignment driven. I worked in Chicago communities where many found dignity and peace in their Muslim faith. We know that is God’s vision.” The Talmud tells us: “The whole of the Torah is for the purpose of promoting peace. I spent several years in Indonesia and heard the call of the azaan at the break of dawn and the fall of dusk. And may God’s peace be upon you. our magnetic compass and tools of navigation. that must be our work here on Earth.” The Holy Bible tells us. to respect one another. and we have made you into nations and tribes so that you may know one another. and to seek common ground. paving the way for Europe’s Renaissance and Enlightenment. and that too often are said only behind closed doors. and firm in my belief that the interests we share as human beings are far more powerful than the forces that drive us apart. we must say openly the things we hold in our hearts. stating. And throughout history. As a young man. Part of this conviction is rooted in my own experience. I also know civilization’s debt to Islam. our understanding of how disease spreads and how it can be healed. Islam has demonstrated through words and deeds the possibilities of religious tolerance and racial equality. Obama began mentoring his audience. “Blessed are the peacemakers. Now. nor can I answer in the time that I have all the complex questions that brought us to this point. But I am convinced that in order to move forward. elegant calligraphy and places of peaceful contemplation. He is incremental by nature. There must be a sustained effort to listen to each other. relaying the common threads in the world’s religious doctrines. The Holy Koran tells us. but my father came from a Kenyan family that includes generations of Muslims. No single speech can eradicate years of mistrust. As a boy. I do so recognizing that change cannot happen overnight.16 Moving from student to teacher. “Be conscious of God and speak always the truth. Thank you. timeless poetry and cherished music. I am a Christian.72 Right Brain/Left Brain President We have the power to make the world we seek. for they shall be called sons of God.

One shining example of successful incremental change is the civil rights movement and Obama’s election to office. Obama is thus a lifelong student of change. values it. puts others at ease. not revolutions. He had to cope with recurring uncertainties on multiple fronts. Obama’s life experience in adaptation. The guiding leadership behavior engaging is defined as understanding and working well with others. it is yet another step in a long line of targets still to be realized. Someone who is engaged will produce and accomplish through their willingness to own a part of the end result. that you have their support. He is truly inspirational and enigmatic. diversity. was fundamental to his adjustment and success. and is able to reach across lines. and in assessing Obama’s facility with each. —Barack Obama18 To engage others means to bring them on board. validating. Obama remarked that he was committed to creating . His world demanded continuous adaptation. thoughts. Obama was continuously required to evolve. He has had to live it. He believes in the premise that the continued thrust of small. In a December 1. giving him firsthand understanding of what is required when we seek to revolutionize. involving. He knows full well what can come from actions that seek to positively reshape the values. and ambiguity are key determinants in his current changeleadership proficiency. Engaging Underpinnings Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. He embraces it. is reverent and courteous. party and otherwise. to interest them in something you are trying to accomplish. Of the two remaining transformational traits. We are the change we seek. To exist in dual worlds. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. unrelenting steps makes the difference. and recognizing others and helping them take responsibility. to gain their devotion to a cause or plight. recall Obama’s personal history. He is in effect a walking testament to the power of transformation.Obama 73 from approximations toward a goal—from evolutions. He possesses a discerning ability to understand others’ perspectives and believes in the power of teamwork as well as the need for everyone on a team to do his or her part. Obama’s cornerstone has been his interpersonal style. to engage someone means that you can count on them to contribute. As a leader. While an impetus milestone in that movement for sure. and respects its complexity. 2008. reconcile. He is a good listener. adaptive and ambiguity allowing. Negotiating the gray areas of life. to live in a cross-section of geographic regions. What has been most consistent in Obama’s messages throughout his candidacy and his new presidency is his engaging references. Obama knows all too well the contests transformations pose. and adjust. when asked about the appointment of his national security team. and actions of others. the unknown and the uncharted. Obama’s own remarkable story now works in his leadership favor. and family structures and to reconcile trying personal circumstances. televised interview. social classes.

that as the world grows smaller. We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty. especially into others’ thoughts Listening—paying attention for accurate understanding Respectful—having consideration for others Responsive—addressing the concerns of others Inclusive—involving everyone Collaborative—working along with others Empathic—understanding others’ perspectives Empowering—giving responsibility to others Charismatic—enthusing others through personal magnetism Motivational—inspiring others in positive action In his inaugural address Obama made the following statements steeped in engaging leadership: For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength. just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. The traits of engaging leadership are: • • • • • • • • • • Inquisitive—probing further. and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation. as if the two behaviors. and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace . and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united. As we consider the road that unfolds before us. More on Obama’s assertiveness will follow. We are shaped by every language and culture. drawn from every end of this Earth.19 Groupthink is a term in interpersonal communications that means the perceived absence of conflict. They are not mutually exclusive. we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass. It also unmistakably points to his commitment to engagement. . . It is nonetheless rare to see a top leader with well-honed and natural people skills who can also be formidable. let’s examine the ten traits of this important behavior and see what makes Obama so inclined. patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. squelching potentially productive debate. not a weakness. Jews and Hindus—and nonbelievers. at this very hour. . we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who. engaging and assertive. Teams where members are too alike are often susceptible to groupthink since differing opinions simply don’t exist. rather it is essential that they occur in unison. The fact that Obama so naturally and openly referenced his determination to avert such a dynamic is yet another example of his uncommon leadership. cannot coexist. Leaders who don’t permit a free exchange of information will also cause groupthink. Obama’s likability and interpersonal skill are in fact so pronounced that they have called into question his ability to stand strong. They have something to tell us today. With respect to Obama’s engagement skills. our common humanity shall reveal itself. but because they embody the spirit of service. that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve. and for a leader. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims.74 Right Brain/Left Brain President a team with strong opinions as he believed such a team would be able to make the best decisions and not fall prey to groupthink.

These things are true. It is the firefighter’s courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke. In the year of America’s birth. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God’s grace upon us. But those values upon which our success depends—hard work and honesty. This is the price and the promise of citizenship. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt. tolerance and curiosity. let us brave once more the icy currents. And yet. the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people: “Let it be told to the future world . on the part of every American. the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. and endure what storms may come. . Let it be said by our children’s children that when we were tested. loyalty and patriotism—these things are old. in this winter of our hardship. . it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. in the coldest of months. alarmed at one common danger. when nothing but hope and virtue could survive . . In the face of our common dangers. So let us mark this day with remembrance. nor did we falter. This is the source of our confidence—the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny. . our nation and the world. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility—a recognition. so defining of our character. came forth to meet [it]. courage and fair play.Obama 75 a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. Our challenges may be new. let us remember these timeless words. The snow was stained with blood. at this moment—a moment that will define a generation—it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all. The enemy was advancing. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break.” America. firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit. that the city and the country. that finally decides our fate. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.20 One and a half million people attended the president’s inauguration. The capital was abandoned. that in the depth of winter. than giving our all to a difficult task. a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. that we have duties to ourselves. and why a man whose father less than 60 years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath. For as much as government can do and must do. . we refused to let this journey end. of who we are and how far we have traveled. Countless others all over the world viewed the event and heard the president’s words. With hope and virtue. but also a parent’s willingness to nurture a child. This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed—why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent Mall. that we did not turn back. duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly.

Whereas nonempathic approaches produce telling. While he is the president. the person holding the highest seat of power. If he is speaking about his direction on environmental reform he will clearly articulate his plan and follow immediately with what each and every citizen can do to contribute to the effort. rate of speech. He was collaborative and empowering as he described how the success of a nation comes from the contributions. Obama’s empathy and inquisitiveness work in tandem—he is curious about the world and its people.76 Right Brain/Left Brain President The event was without incident. and exhilarating. moving. Obama’s superior empathic ability is rooted in his upbringing and in the perspectives of both his mother and father. Some estimates go as high as 85 percent. In this way he is able to convey empathy—the ability to relate to others’ perspectives along with an inquisitive or interested position. responsibility. His references to past plights and tomorrow’s lights expressed passionately and poetically were both charismatic and motivational. A responsive tone was reiterated throughout the address as arduous times were acknowledged. His rather ordinary relational style is an effective equalizer. Without compromise to his stature. silence. In his less formal communications and positions Obama has an uncanny ability to show us our place—how we can and should get involved. In his expression of validation and thanks he showed his respectful consideration of our servicemen and women. an empathic tack engenders sharing. The communication rule of thumb is that upwards of 70 percent of our communication is nonverbal. and voice of its citizens. Consider . touch. vocal qualities and tone. and openness for all involved. involving everyone in his call. eye contact. In the concluding remarks from his inaugural address we see more precisely the qualities of engaging leadership. Your nonverbal communication will ultimately be what communicates your messages.21 Nonverbal communication is a critical factor in engagement. and pitch. gestures. it was peaceful. He validated who we are as a people and he engendered a spirit of involvement. That means that others pay less attention to what we say and more attention to how we say it. A final aspect of engaging leadership to consider is that of nonverbal behavior. understanding. He showed his listening skill as he relayed the historic values of our nation. When the behavior savvy is examined you will see how Obama’s engaging strong suits contribute to his ability as a diplomat. whining. No doubt Obama has the power to engage. With his reference to the strength of our “patchwork” heritage along with his mention of all global factions he was inclusive. Aspects of nonverbal communication include facial expressions. laughter. he can in a moment be one of us. one-way tones. who were above all matched in their appreciation for humanity. His ability to “walk in the shoes of another” must be underscored in terms of how it enables Obama to bring others together. and out of that curiosity he is well able to tune into others’ views. yelling. This address was vintage Obama in its ability to prompt and encourage. and vice versa. he is also able to relate to the everyday person in an unpretentious manner.

more genuine. His nuances and qualities of nonverbal communication match the situation. Upon closer examination you would even find several behavior traits that are their cornerstones. He becomes more stern and definitive in his speech during heightened. Instead the leader would likely act from more ingrained behavioral habits. especially during times of stress. is less disposed to such predilections and more prone to behavioral diversity. meaning his facility in each of the four behaviors runs across many or most of the behaviors’ discrete traits. He is known for being even in tone and temperament. It makes us more likely to listen to him even when we disagree with what he is saying. . if you were to examine several good or great leaders you would no doubt find several of the right-brain behaviors at which they are masterful. You would seldom find the breadth and depth you see in Obama. it will be interesting to see if we find the same levels of breadth and depth. He makes good eye contact. rather than to extend in a broader manner across the leadership behavioral plane. In addition he possesses great depth. You would instead most probably find the tendency to overplay strengths. Noting Breadth and Depth As we consider Obama’s overall right-brain leadership ability we see two notables— he has both right-brain leadership breadth—he acts from all four right-brain leadership guiding behaviors. As we move next to an examination of Obama’s left-brain guiding leadership behaviors. He slows his speech down and repeats key phrases that he wants to be sure to emphasize. Typically. He is pleasant and expresses genuine positive emotion where appropriate. serious times. Obama. There would be less seamless behavioral shifting in the “checks and balance” manner from which our brain is wired to work.Obama 77 Obama’s nonverbal demeanor. Overall. on the other hand. I hope you are beginning to see that it is the nuances that make the difference in Obama’s leadership—the fact that he acts from such a broad set of behaviors and traits and that he does so in a naturally integrated fashion. This makes him more believable. when you combine what he says with how he says it. we find Obama’s engaging ability to be exceptional. All of these things draw us to him.

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Above all. and actions are created that contribute to overarching long-term strategies. and attention to detail.Chapter 5 Obama’s Vision Realized Methodical: A Call to Action There’s been a tendency to score political points instead of rolling up sleeves to solve real problems. accomplishment was requisite. What we notice today in Obama is flawless left-brain order. Methodical leadership ensures that near-term tactics. It also means that you are efficient and systematic in your approach. taking into consideration tasks and details. A methodical leader employs systematic scrutiny to craft elemental objectives. High standards for achievement were set. The guiding leadership behavior methodical and its ten corresponding traits will display Obama’s preparatory capability. a staging toward one’s goals. In essence it is the role of the left brain to structure and drive the vision that the right brain has determined. To be methodical requires that you well organize your charge. While he may have been encouraged to dream and to wonder. his day-to-day existence was marked by the rather common preoccupations of a structured and disciplined life. analytics. —Barack Obama1 As atypical as certain aspects of Obama’s upbringing were. qualities necessary to develop and execute master plans. he was expected to perform. discrete steps. The ten traits of methodical leadership are: • • • • • • Task oriented—attentive to assignments Detail oriented—attentive to discrete parts of assignments Organized—orderly and systematic Effective—producing workable solutions and results Focused—able to establish and attend to priorities Procedural—using systems and processes .

Additionally the Obama plan proposed an oversight council that would charge regulators with monitoring both oversight and communication across the financial sector to address issues that may have fallen between the cracks. In an address to the nation Obama highlighted the main points of this latest reform. 2009. recognizing what makes the best sense Analytical—breaking an entity into its parts Factual—basing assertions on tangible data and evidence On June 17. They did not opt to start from scratch. they behaved like banks but chose to be regulated as insurance companies. He began by setting the context and then delineated the compelling case for change. or investment firms. Obama noted that in developing this plan they sought to address targeted flaws that left us vulnerable to securing our safety as we move ahead. One of the reasons this crisis could take place is that while many agencies and regulators were responsible for overseeing individual financial firms and their subsidiaries.80 • • • • Right Brain/Left Brain President Sequential—cognizant of the likely order of things Logical—rational and reasonable. He was also intent on mandating greater reserves that such organizations maintain as added safeguards. Instead Obama led a focused approach. We seek to create a framework in which markets can function freely and fairly. . but also—for the first time—at the stability of the financial system as a whole.2 In this opening point. In describing the plan’s three salient features. the president unveiled the specifics of his financial regulatory reform plan. but not the forest. requiring regulators to provide oversight into both individual institutions and the interrelationship between these institutions. In how Obama has described his reform thus far we see evidence of his analytical and detail-oriented facility. Obama began by stating: With the reforms we’re proposing today. The document was eighty-eight pages in length and marked yet another step in the series of actions the president took to address the global economic crisis. The president went on to describe the additional authority he would grant to the Federal Reserve to regulate large entities that create potential for risk. some firms that posed a so-called “systemic risk” were not regulated as strongly as others. Regulators were charged with seeing the trees. we seek to put in place rules that will allow our markets to promote innovation while discouraging abuse. without the fragility in which normal business cycles suddenly bring the risk of financial collapse. Obama goes on to explain. And even then. First. we want a system that works for businesses and consumers . no one was responsible for protecting the whole system from the kinds of risks that tied these firms to one another. . we’re proposing a set of reforms to require regulators to look not only at the safety and soundness of individual institutions. . the president immediately connects his tactic to the overarching strategic intent—to avert another house of cards or a snowballing effect that could place the entire financial system at risk again. or other entities that were under less scrutiny.

. . You’ll be able to compare products and see what’s best for you.4 Obama’s final point described a series of changes designed to promote free and fair markets by closing gaps and overlaps in our regulatory system—including gaps that exist not just within but between nations . we have a process through the FDIC that protects depositors and maintains confidence in the banking system. This agency will have the power to set standards so that companies compete by offering innovative products that consumers actually want—and actually understand. and accurate. for example—has an interest in ensuring that a loan is actually paid back. . The mission of this new agency must also be reflected in the work we do throughout the government. Yet we don’t have any effective system in place to contain the failure of an AIG. with more fine print and more hidden terms . Companies compete not by offering better products. or the largest and most interconnected financial firms in our country. The most unfair practices will be banned. And it works. transparent. Think about this: If a bank fails. Hedge fund advisors will be required to register with the SEC. We will offer only one federal banking charter. Obama demonstrates his procedural manner by looking at how to best leverage systems and processes. noting that there were also millions of Americans who signed contracts they didn’t always understand offered by lenders who didn’t always tell the truth . This process was created during the Great Depression when the failure of one bank led to runs on other banks. And we will require the originator of a loan to retain an economic interest in that loan. Consumers will be provided information that is simple. . but more complicated ones. . like the Federal Trade Commission. We’ll raise capital requirements for all depository institutions. .3 In this excerpt. so that the lender—and not just the holder of a security. . Those ridiculous contracts with pages of fine print that no one can figure out . we will dismantle the Office of Thrift Supervision and close loopholes that have allowed important institutions to cherry-pick among banking rules. to establish a potent agency that will look out for the interest of the everyday consumer. and we must ensure that those agencies have the resources and the state-of-the-art tools to stop unfair and deceptive practices as well.Obama’s Vision Realized 81 As part of this effort we’re proposing the creation of what’s called “resolution authority” for large and interconnected financial firms so that we’re not only putting in place safeguards to prevent the failure of these firms. but also a set of orderly procedures that will allow us to protect the economy if such a firm does in fact go underwater. We’re also proposing comprehensive regulation of credit default swaps and other derivatives that have threatened the entire financial system. regulated by a strengthened federal supervisor. charged with protecting consumers. which in turn threatened wider turmoil. He is factual in explaining the rationale for such oversight. He goes on to describe the second key element of his reform. By setting common-sense . . There are other agencies.

One would describe him as “buttoned-up” in overall approach. shows his task-oriented side. Obama demonstrates how he is both sequential and logical. For example. these kinds of financial instruments can play a constructive. data-driven. Obama had attacked a range of problems with methodical precision. Obama’s response to a critical matter is systematic. Using the Methodical Leadership Checklist below. We saw Obama’s methodical stance originally in how he ran his campaign. More striking is the right. While showing that he can handle numerous demands—his exact words.and left-brain interplay as the president worked from a matrix format to identify interconnections among and between issues wherever possible. you can see aspects of this important tactical behavior as .82 Right Brain/Left Brain President rules. In an attempt to create a plan that is effective we heard Obama’s proposed workable solutions: • • • • • Extending oversight to the Federal Reserve Giving government the power to break up large firms Regulating complex securities Creating a consumer protection agency Coordinating regulations worldwide 6 The president’s aggressive attention to the economic crisis. Obama’s systematic command seems more about who he is. “I believe a president should be able to walk and chew gum at the same time”7— Obama addressed manifold issues at once. In the preceding example from the early stages of his presidency.5 With this set of orderly plausible steps. and to put sound processes in place to support overall intent. with well-organized plans down to the smallest of tasks and details. we can easily map his style to that of a sound methodical leader. We can see similar examples of order in his personal life. Next we saw an effectively run and focused transition team. and rational. ordered. While one may argue that Obama had little choice but to act and to act quickly on the economic front. and he and Michelle defined a set “date-night” upon moving into the White House— the Obamas’ way to plan for a regular return to their social life given the voluminous demands on their time. For each separate matter he was able to go step-by-step. rather than destructive role. In vintage Obama clean and clear summary style. to order. to dissect. the president demonstrated his organized approach. to use broad-based data to inform decisions. Obama adheres to a rigorous exercise regimen. that he is attentive to the work at hand. adding this latest proposed reform to the previous actions he took to right the economy. to act with common sense. Thinking about how Obama approaches his work and his life. with multiple critical issues on the table. As you look over Obama’s first six months in office. more internally driven than externally determined.

METHODICAL LEADERSHIP CHECKLIST ___ Task oriented: Ground my day in the assignments at hand. Obama is a fan of scorecards. A leader must connect through words with those with whom he is involved. netting workable solutions or results. opportunities. The success of one’s plans. —Barack Obama9 On June 11. She’s with me. 2009. ___ Logical: Look back over the plan to date to ensure that it makes good overall sense. who was missing her . ___ Procedural: Ensure that adequate processes and systems are in place. is often determined in part by one’s ability to adequately communicate them. A man stood up to the microphone to ask a question and remarked that he was at the meeting with his ten-year old daughter. Enhance the checklist by using a scale from one to ten with ten being outstanding. however.8 One would expect that he will receive consistently high marks on this opening left-brain leadership skill set. Here is a scorecard for you to use to rate the president on his methodical leadership ability. ___ Organized: Consider how to resource and track the work to ensure systematic order. Expressive Excellence Please excuse Kennedy from school today. weaknesses. A leader must be able to convey salient points at precise moments and in the right forums. and threats. Wisconsin. and track Obama periodically on his methodical ability. Such is the charge of expressive leadership. ___ Effective: Consider the conditions that would need to be met to meet goals in the best way possible.Obama’s Vision Realized 83 it reveals itself in the day-to-day thoughts and actions of a leader like Obama. the president was speaking at a town hall meeting in Green Bay. ___ Focused: Examine the work scope and resources available to prioritize tasks and initiatives and attend to those established. ___ Detail oriented: Ground my day in the discrete parts of the assignments. ___ Analytical: Examine elements and relationships for plan and goal strengths. ___ Sequential: Determine the best order and time frames for the work. ___ Factual: Provide the facts to back up assertions.

considering I have some people here from work that are very interested in— The president: No. I’m going to write to Kennedy’s teacher. and that you are compelling and encouraging. I’m listening to your question. that of expressive leadership. in this case. What’s your daughter’s name? The dad: Her name is Kennedy. In today’s internet world one has to come across equally well virtually. we catch a glimpse of Obama’s ease with the impromptu. What’s her name? The dad: Well. In addition we see continuous right-brain collaboration with the behavior engaging. thank you. no. and crystal-clear speaking. When his base communication skills are melded with his interpersonal flair.84 Right Brain/Left Brain President last day of school to see the president. An expressive leader can master all mediums from face-to-face conversations to formal presentations and doctrine. that’s a cool name. Obama quickly reacted with the following banter: The president: Oh.” The note was signed. go ahead.) Okay. (Laughter. walked over to the family. poising Obama for enhanced leadership impact. The dad commented that he hoped she wasn’t going to get in trouble. In this section on expressive leadership we see yet another example of Obama’s right and left brain working in consort. I’ll start writing it now.) Do you need me to write a note? The dad: I’ll take you up on that actually. The president: Kennedy. A leader’s messages then must be tailored to varied channels to be effective. I’m serious. The traits of expressive leadership are: • • • • • • • Prepared—giving the necessary forethought to formal and informal messages Articulate—able to write and speak with clarity Coherent—able to write and speak logically Concise—able to write and speak succinctly Erudite—able to express yourself from the basis of scholarly knowledge Presentable—having a professional presence and demeanor Passionate—having intensity and/or enthusiasm with respect to your subject matter . The president: All right. Obama’s expressive ability is far-reaching.” Obama is known for his eloquent. All right. “Barack Obama. To be expressive is to clearly communicate your thoughts. Mr. that you converse and come across well. and handed a note to them. yet in the exchange described here with a young girl’s father at a town hall meeting.10 Obama finished writing. It read. We see great depth in a given left-brain guiding leadership behavior. (Laughter and applause. no. President. It means that you provide audiences with the needed context. “Please excuse Kennedy from school today.) The president: All right. He is jokingly called the teleprompter president for his buttoned-up addresses. Obama’s expressive leadership impact takes on his own unique brand. (Laughter. go ahead. inspirational. She’s with me. (Laughter.) The dad: That’s a very cool name.

He is heard time and time again using the phrases “Let me be clear” and “Let me say that again” to emphasize key points. He provokes our thoughts and holds our attention. Returning to excerpts from the president’s June 4. Obama presents as a polished enthusiast. prosperity is hurt everywhere. a genuineness as a human being. above all. and interesting reflect your expressive persona.Obama’s Vision Realized • Personable—having an appropriately favorable demeanor • Persuasive—able to make a compelling point • Interesting—provoking thought and/or holding others’ attention 85 Ancient Greek playwright Menander wrote. and to gauge what they are thinking. With respect to expressive persona. 2009. the . indicating that mastery is important to him. concise. He unties listeners away from their unilateral factions to their existence as humankind. perhaps more so than we have seen from a sitting president. address at Cairo University we can see the full spectrum of Obama’s expressive persona. His preparation is complete. articulate. When a new flu infects one human being. to understand. think of them as divided into two categories. or five crisp summary points. When you read his writings or listen to him speak. He will organize new plans or policy directions into three. coherent. along with other qualities such as your appearance. He is clear and to the point. In the following remarks the president captivates his global audience in a manner that negotiates multiple fine lines. His town hall formats suggest a genuine desire to be in close touch with the people—to know. Think of the ten traits of expressive leadership as organized into the mechanics of expression and your expressive persona. persuasive. Being presentable. learned. his thoughts are conveyed in a manner that seems logical and. charming. He is amiable. He makes compelling cases for change. four.12 Obama’s expressive mechanics are spot-on. passionate. One category would represent the more technical aspects of communicating—what you say—while the second category represents your delivery—how you say what you need to say.”11 What do Obama’s conversations tell us about his character? Obama is in the public eye frequently. Being prepared. and likable. Through his conversations he displays seriousness of character and strength of convictions along with warmth and playfulness. He is typically exceptionally well versed in his subject matter. all are at risk. Obama communicates in well-constructed road maps complete with rationales and supporting data. His communications extend across a spectrum from userfriendly simplistic language to rich scholarly references. personable. With respect to the actual ten traits of expressive leadership. As such he is creating the impression of accessibility and of determination. For we have learned from recent experience that when a financial system weakens in one country. far from the usual droning of politicians. and erudite are all mechanics of communicating. “The character of a man is known from his conversations. When one nation pursues a nuclear weapon.

accessible. Through his expressive persona being presentable. That is what it means to share this world in the 21st century. Through what he said and how he said it. Obama walked us through a timeline of critical world events from economic crisis to the far-reaching consequences of inhumanity in order to encourage us to be one. So whatever we think of the past. and interesting.14 Overall his speech to the Muslim world was in essence a well-blended balance of expressive mechanics and expressive persona where he demonstrated the full range of expressive traits. any world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will inevitably fail. As it was. persuasive. and professional speaking style to craft and deliver high-impact messages. In the statements that followed the president took his audience through seven key issues that the global community must address together. personable. That is the responsibility we have to one another as human beings. He did so with great command of his subject matter and in a manner that held each group accountable without alienation. doing . with poise. it suggests the opposite: we must face these tensions squarely. that is a stain on our collective conscience. For human history has often been a record of nations and tribes subjugating one another to serve their own interests. explaining that to succeed in working together as a people we must first deal with the very issues that divide us. such attitudes are self-defeating. This is a difficult responsibility to embrace.86 Right Brain/Left Brain President risk of nuclear attack rises for all nations. passionate. Obama’s address at Cairo University is not to be underestimated. progress must be shared. And when innocents in Bosnia and Darfur are slaughtered. When violent extremists operate in one stretch of mountains.13 In this passage from Obama’s landmark global address we see the president leverage his compelling. He spoke candidly and from a firm knowledge base. Obama superbly managed a complex speaking trial. we must not be prisoners of it. That does not mean we should ignore sources of tension. Yet in this new age. diplomacy. Given our interdependence. and the Arab world The rights and responsibilities of nations regarding nuclear weapons Democracy Religious freedom The rights of women Economic development and opportunity. Palestinians. And so in that spirit. The seven key issues referenced included: • • • • • • • Violent extremism in all forms The situation between Israelis. Indeed. people are endangered across an ocean. Obama met this test head-on. Obama’s remarks in this noted section of his address implore the masses to confront differences. it reflected a stellar example of expressive leadership. let me speak as clearly and plainly as I can about some specific issues that I believe we must finally confront together. and scholarship. Our problems must be dealt with through partnership.

15 Obama is a gifted writer. and catapulted it to greater heights. you were taken to that day. town hall dialogue. His ability to draw from extensive behavioral breadth and depth took an already accelerated skill.and left-brain leadership abilities came into play. as is the case with his expressive flair. like specters. In what we can hear from Obama overall. This convincing autobiographical account of the young Obama’s personal and professional journey is masterfully written. was perhaps stimulated. even when melded with an interpersonal bond. Obama’s multiple right. press conferences. is leftbrain communicative command. a call for new paths forward. one section in particular stands out in my mind. we will explore how Obama’s words and emotions are in fact backed up by his stability and good-sense stewardship. the anguish and the fear. We saw strategic vision and innovation in how the address was put together as well as transformational fervor. If what Menander says is true. and the days that would follow—the planes. He can communicate that intent in the most effective manner possible. step-by-step ability. Nor do I pretend to understand the stark nihilism that drove the terrorists that day and that drives their brethren still . one of hope and commonality. It was Obama’s conveyance of September 11. While the president’s singular leadership behaviors are exemplary. whether through formal speeches. He demonstrated solid grounded traits through his composed credible nature. Lastly we saw Obama’s tried and true engaging persona in the alignment of his words and his intent. that the character of a man is known . You felt its horror. We also see a genuine right-brain relationship with his audiences. As a final example of Obama’s expressive ability we look to one of his own works. vanishing into steel and glass.Obama’s Vision Realized 87 so in such a way that a new direction. the ash-covered figures wandering the streets.and left-brain leadership behaviors makes his effect all the more potent. Obama’s success in this effort was possible not only because of his expressive acumen but also because his speaking modeled the very collaboration he was asking for from his audience. He was assertive in his willingness to explicitly confront sensitive matters. But words alone are not enough. that of his expressive leadership. yet another facet of his expressive capability. The next hurdle is whether a leader can stand behind his words and feelings in how he is in fact experienced. that of grounded leadership. . or interviews. his ability to fluidly combine and leverage multiple right. Obama’s intent is good. passages in written works. the slow-motion cascade of the towers crumbling into themselves. As we move to the next left-brain guiding behavior. Alluring throughout. Through the president’s well-crafted address he drew from methodical. It’s beyond my skill as a writer to capture that day. 2001. Dreams from My Father. . Complexly describing the moment in a vivid and compelling manner all his own. Within his depiction we also see his human connection to the world’s tragic circumstance.

give him power. They themselves will feel valued. —Barack Obama16 Obama has an extraordinary sense of responsibility. Obama’s scorecard is not based on wins and losses. If you are a grounded leader. The guiding leadership behavior grounded is defined as acting with integrity. It is based on responsibility to those who have entrusted him with the authority of his office. consistency. How individuals handle power reflects their character. both about you and about themselves. Grounded: Responsible with a “Capitol” R But we have been called to govern in extraordinary times.88 Right Brain/Left Brain President from his conversations. And that requires an extraordinary sense of responsibility—to ourselves. to be the steward and the gauge. honest. Obama should be positioned for strong grounded leadership traits. It is about how others feel in your presence. how grounded a leader she is. Can the leader be trusted? Is he viewed as stable? Does she make those around her feel as though they are in good hands? Lincoln would agree. first based on the very position they hold and then by virtue of how they set out to lead. others will feel as though they are in fact safe. sensible. among other things. and fair. but if you want to test his character. Grounded leadership is ultimately a matter of character. They will see you as respectable. How a leader handles power will determine. and to the many generations whose lives will be affected for the good or for the ill because of what we do here. Obama has been compared in some respects to past president Abraham Lincoln. and stability. All leaders have power. poised. to the men and women who sent us here.”17 How does President Obama display his power and what does that tell us about his character? Examining Obama in terms of grounded leadership traits will provide the answer. the ten traits of grounded leadership are: • • • • • • • • • • Composed—able to control your emotions Approachable—having a manner that allows others to reach out to you Genuine—sincere Pragmatic—practical and realistic Cautious—sensible and careful Questioning—seeking assurances and/or getting to the bottom of issues Stable—steady and consistent in your views and approaches Loyal—committed to your people and responsibilities Established—having proven competence Trustworthy—able to be counted on . Looking more closely at what it means to be grounded. authentic. The Obama view of leadership is not a “do it my way” or “I know what’s best” perspective. “Nearly all men can stand adversity. It is about the greater good and about visionary progress as reflected in sustained American ideals. Lincoln once said.

with 62. a cargo ship was hijacked by Somali pirates. Is she practical? Does she exercise good caution? Does she ask the right questions? The third cluster reflects a leader’s reputation over time. Richard Phillips. Those discrepancies included actual numbers of votes recorded at certain polling places and the speed with which the election results were supposedly finalized (votes simply could not have been counted so quickly).6 percent of the vote in his favor. I . how a leader responds to a given situation. but to applaud others. how others experience a leader in the moment. and established is he? Can we trust him to deliver on his promises? Relating the ten traits of grounded leadership to Obama. was taken hostage. Obama said. The first cluster represents initial impressions. making certain that his decisions were sensible and careful as he worked to deal with a critical and highprofile situation. Obama stated that he was “deeply troubled by the violence that I’ve been seeing on television. A charge of fraud was raised when incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was declared the winner. What began as peaceful national protest grew to violence. The president was appropriately cautious. who has been characteristically in the public eye.” In an attempt to support the people of Iran. did not hold a press conference following this incident to glamorize the success of its resolution but rather put out a statement calling attention to the crew and to Captain Phillips’s bravery. How loyal. 2009. the ship’s captain. On April 8. approachable. One such example comes from Obama’s handling of the April 2009 Indian Ocean hostage situation. “To those people who put so much hope and energy and optimism into the political process. On June 12. While the crew was able to regain control of their ship.Obama’s Vision Realized 89 The ten traits of grounded leadership can be organized into three clusters. As further testament to Obama’s character it is noteworthy that the president. we see a leader whose hallmarks are equanimity and steadiness. At that moment he exercised his power with discretion and not for his own self interest.19 Some considered Obama’s public statements too reserved. the country of Iran held its tenth presidential election. Allegations of wrongdoing stemmed from the fact that former prime minister and candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi’s representatives were not permitted to join in the supervision of the election and that numerous inconsistencies existed in the overall process.18 The president handled the matter in a serious and low-key fashion. and genuine is he? The second cluster represents a leader’s grounded actions. How composed. Obama was said to have worked discreetly and effectively with Defense Department factions to ultimately enable Navy Seals to rescue Captain Phillips. A second incident comes to mind in terms of Obama’s composure and stability. Obama leveraged the resources at his disposal and acted with the needed command and authority. 2009.” further remarking that “it is up to the Iranians to make decisions about who Iran’s leaders will be. An international outcry of injustice followed. steady. He would therefore receive high marks on the traits composed and stable. Initially it appeared also that the government was blocking full view of the election controversy from the rest of the world.

wherewithal. established. There is little we know that would . with respect to the trait approachable. loyal. highly adept at effective inquiry. better to reflect on what this circumstance tells him about the whole of Iran. finding the appropriate balance and focus. the matter is being taken under serious advisement by many. His reiterative point about the world watching may indicate that from his perspective. He will rely on this trait. and in due course likely reset. Obama’s statements are those of a grounded leader who draws from a dynamic interplay between strategic thinking and ultimate assertive response. and rather than act in response to a singular event. . his steady hand will guide his decisions about whether to scale back. such is especially the case.”20 Was Obama too moderate in his response. he will need to prove himself as president. we must push hard to drive needed change.90 Right Brain/Left Brain President would say to them that the world is watching and inspired by their participation. and integrity. or perhaps was he prudent and thoughtful. and in the president’s mind. himself included. It appears that as the work unfolds. That he has reached his present place in life clearly speaks to his record of accomplishment. These are unusual times. proven capability. which explains the broad net he cast early on in his presidency. regardless of what the ultimate outcome of the election was . While some criticize him for taking on too much at once. Given the turbulent times of the Obama presidency. In his new role as president. His left-brain structure and stability—his vigilant nature—will step in over time to modulate the direction. regardless of past accomplishments. In continuing to explore Obama’s grounded leadership traits. will be judged relative to steadfastness. His authenticity is apparent. these are qualities that must withstand the test of time. Any leader. and that everyone is on alert. With respect to the remaining three grounded traits. taking in the accounts of this acutely disturbing matter and looking to sensibly integrate it into his strategy with Iran moving forward? Was he displaying sound interplay between immediate left-brain reaction and a right-brain fullscope approach? Obama’s right brain was seeing the complexities of Iran’s world circumstance. While we can look across Obama’s life to date and see little if any reason to doubt his allegiance. Evaluations will be based on performance in each successive position. and trustworthy. Obama’s reliability. He is pragmatic. Certainly the fact that he has historically conducted himself as someone who can be counted on bodes well for him. And they should know that the world is watching. His right-brain integrated mindset is disposed to seeing things holistically. he is sensible and careful in his monitoring approaches. Obama is at ease socially and is a natural at helping others to feel comfortable in his presence. . from where its people stand to the realities of its current leadership. and temperament will be tested in countless ways. Such is the case because Obama is questioning. Obama is genuine. able to sort through the complexities of issues and with practical common sense identify what makes sense and what doesn’t.

what could be said is that Obama makes a solid initial impression. Your simple gut check for assertiveness run amok is whether or not your behavior is devaluing. inflicting harshness. Obama’s impact in this respect will have to withstand the test of time. and his reputation over time. What is truly assertive with respect to leadership? Obama’s previously referenced quote relays the phrase “giving our all to a difficult task. —Barack Obama21 If you look up the word assertive you will note descriptors such as forcefully strong and self-assured. to be an assertive leader is to be upfront. from methodical or systematic to expressive. perhaps even pushy. acting from arrogance. Attacking without provocation. disrespect. In the language of the right brain/left brain leadership model. or volatility would also be excluded from this leadership view of assertive actions. dishonest. displaying the character factor. able to communicate to grounded. Running over the top of others or doing the work for them are rather ineffective leadership stances. or inhumane. As we move through the four left-brain guiding leadership behaviors. we also find noted strong suits. but the times and context will certainly try him. approachable. so defining of our character. if what we mean by those terms is to act boldly or willing to make the first move. how pragmatic. and insolent. brazen.Obama’s Vision Realized 91 call into question that he is in fact an honorable man. Still. Similarly. that we have duties to ourselves. aggressive. and genuine. True Assertive What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility. It is crucial to see plans through to fruition.” That is one way to describe assertive leadership. on the part of every American. direct. firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit. so to speak. a recognition. we come to the final left-brain behavior. Assertive leadership may also at times require that one be aggressive. his initial impressions. even brazen. in all. we must wait and see how this new president fares. The nature of Obama’s assertiveness will be pivotal in what he is ultimately able to accomplish. cautious. duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly. It is important to be outspoken and take charge. You may even see words like pushy. and questioning he is. his grounded actions. With respect to his grounded actions. Regarding his reputation. than giving our all to a difficult task. He most often seems composed. Assertive leadership would not include a Machiavellian perspective wherein ends justify the means. Being strong and self-assured. to act with resolve. would all be considered part of that leadership definition. It is necessary to leverage one’s . All evidence to date tells us he will come through these aspects of grounded leadership well. In evaluating Obama’s grounded facility by the clustering traits. driving hidden agendas. assertive. micromanaging would be considered contrary to true assertiveness. and determined to get the desired results. our nation and the world.

To see Obama as assertive. as our constitution states “by the people and for the people. . To be purposeful is to be clear about what you are setting out to accomplish. At this burdened time. the preference for some was for Obama to simplify his direction and demand closure on certain items that would bring immediate relief. placed added layers of intricacy on the cascading objectives.” 2. He had positioned himself to tend both to policy items like the economy. Obama’s resolve seems to emanate from three target imperatives: 1. This broader scope. some indicated that they needed Obama to levy the full weight of his power to silence the opposition and bring needed change. one with direct strategic underpinnings. To fix Washington—move it from perpetual campaign mode back to governing mode.92 Right Brain/Left Brain President scope of power to the fullest. along with foundational factors that drive who we are. and terrorism. The president’s more specific goals and policy directions then flowed from these three overarching necessities and. education. required continuous shifting on Obama’s part between right-brain transformational and engaging traits along with left-brain assertive ones. and how we are viewed. The ten traits of assertive leadership are: • • • • • • • • • • Purposeful—determined and definite in your goals Confident—assured about your capability to reach desired goals Tenacious—unrelenting Driven—staying determined to reach goals and get results Delegating—able to assign and resource the work appropriately Decisive—able to make sound decisions Courageous—willing to face challenges and difficulties Candid—upfront and direct Confrontational—able to work through a conflict Closure-seeking—seeing things through and pushing for conclusions In essence. The challenge is to do so in a manner that upholds the core values of your charge and the basic dignity of others. as such. getting the job done but getting it done well while valuing those around you is what real assertive leadership is all about. health care. To restore faith here and abroad in our public and private systems and leadership factions. Complicating matters further was the persistent maneuvering taking place by those who were desperate to regain lost political ground. Let us see how President Obama fares with respect to this key behavior. Assertive leadership begins with a sense of purpose. 3. when the nation’s problems continued to hit close to home for all too many citizens. Centering their ploys on the health care debate. this group brought fierce tactics to bear in their attempts to undermine Obama. To return the United States to its constitutional foundation—to be a nation. how we function.

that of foundational assertive traits—those that enable a leader to set initiatives in motion—and reactive assertiveness—how well a leader deals with matters along the way. candid. and delegating. confident. As such they mark a leader’s ability to address issues and push where necessary to drive for conclusions. perhaps we need to become more sensible and. not months or years. If. comprise foundational assertive leadership. For now it seems that there are several discrepant notions causing Obama to be misrepresented here. it can in fact be viewed in two parts.Obama’s Vision Realized 93 Because of these circumstances. Obama’s purpose is clear. confronta tional. you may be inclined to fashion a new yardstick. to move progressively and patiently as multiple aspects come together? Could tenacity also be described as doing what is needed to drive overall efficiency and effectiveness? Only time will tell if Obama can reshape public sentiment in this manner. His tenacity can be seen in the tone of his administration. We have become gluttonous in how we view success. are referred to collectively as reactive assertive leadership. courageous. The first five assertive traits. Would we be willing to entertain new definitions. that our thinking has been at best incomplete and at worst downright flawed. of what it means to be tough? Could a description of tenacious move from ramming things through to able to go the distance. tenacious. In carrying out what has been recognized as backstage and quiet leadership. are our expectations realistic? Obama’s plight may be telling us that if we in fact do seek such safety. and closure seeking. Citing once again the April 2009 incident. His delegating style is reflected in the value he places on teamwork. what we are really asking for is security and an end to our fears. by the sheer magnitude of what they are willing to take on and by the many daily markers of progress. more truthful. If we reexamine Obama’s purpose from his perspective. but in the nation’s ability to prevail. decisive. the president worked collaboratively with both federal law enforcement and the military to effect his role as commander in chief in securing the safe return of the cargo ship’s captain. for example. One need only look to his success at going from a young African American community organizer to historic forty-fourth president of the United States of America to note his drive. though. purposeful. Our semantics around assertive leadership may in fact begin to shift. He carries himself with confidence.22 The remaining five assertive traits. Returning to our understanding of assertive leadership. We are a culture driven by immediacy of reward and quick fixes. a value poignantly evidenced in his handling of his first national security crisis. Does he take on too much? Can he move from words to action? Where is the change? Is he tough enough? The longerrange and matrixlike fashion from which Obama operates is different than what we are used to. Tenacity in this sense would seem to mean someone able to come out swinging and make an impact in days. driven. assertive leadership was and is perhaps where Obama suffers his greatest criticisms. confidence not simply in himself. the rescue of Captain Phillips. more to the point. the president worked appropriately behind the scenes on a plan that in decisive .


Right Brain/Left Brain President

fashion, he authorized, resulting in a successful mission. With respect to his courage, Obama takes strong positions and faces challenges at home and abroad. At his memorable June 4, 2009, Cairo University speech, the president made these remarks concerning the threat of terrorism:
In Ankara, I made clear that America is not—and never will be—at war with Islam. We will, however, relentlessly confront violent extremists who pose a grave threat to our security. Because we reject the same thing that people of all faiths reject: the killing of innocent men, women, and children. And it is my first duty as President to protect the American people. The situation in Afghanistan demonstrates America’s goals, and our need to work together. Over seven years ago, the United States pursued al Qaeda and the Taliban with broad international support. We did not go by choice, we went because of necessity. I am aware that some question or justify the events of 9/11. But let us be clear: al Qaeda killed nearly 3,000 people on that day. The victims were innocent men, women and children from America and many other nations who had done nothing to harm anybody. And yet Al Qaeda chose to ruthlessly murder these people, claimed credit for the attack, and even now states their determination to kill on a massive scale. They have affiliates in many countries and are trying to expand their reach. These are not opinions to be debated; these are facts to be dealt with. Make no mistake: we do not want to keep our troops in Afghanistan. We seek no military bases there. It is agonizing for America to lose our young men and women. It is costly and politically difficult to continue this conflict. We would gladly bring every single one of our troops home if we could be confident that there were not violent extremists in Afghanistan and Pakistan determined to kill as many Americans as they possibly can. But that is not yet the case.23

Courageous words the president expressed regarding arduous circumstances that must be addressed, matters that will not be tolerated, and injustices that will be settled. Assertive language by the president on the home front can be noted during a March 17, 2009, press conference in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, as Obama responded to Republican criticisms of the budget.
“Just say no” is the right advice to give your teenagers about drugs. It is not an acceptable response to what our economic policies propose by the other party . . . what we need in Washington are not more political tactics, we need more good ideas. We don’t need more point scoring, we need more problem solving. So if there are members of Congress who object to specific policies and proposals in this budget, then I ask them to be ready and willing to propose constructive alternative solutions. If certain aspects of this budget people don’t think work, provide us some ideas in terms of what you do. . . . The American people sent us here to get things done.24

Obama demonstrates a unique brand of assertive tact in that he faces difficulties by calling for the germane conversations. The nature of his assertiveness also

Obama’s Vision Realized


reflects appropriately candid and confrontational actions in that he cuts through the politics to get us to the heart of the matter. In his April 14, 2009, address at Georgetown University Obama noted,
For too long, too many in Washington put off hard decisions for some other time on some other day. There’s been a tendency to score political points instead of rolling up sleeves to solve real problems. There is also an impatience that characterizes this town—an attention span that has only grown shorter with the twenty-four-hour news cycle, and insists on instant gratification in the form of immediate results or higher poll numbers. When a crisis hits, there’s all too often a lurch from shock to trance, with everyone responding to the tempest of the moment until the furor has died away and the media coverage has moved on, instead of confronting the major challenges that will shape our future in a sustained and focused way.25

In these two examples, the first in which the president demands that objections be backed by alternate ideas and the second where he distinguishes the politics from the actual work, we see more clearly Obama’s brand of assertiveness. Companioned with frequent right-brain style shifts Obama reflects back on strategic intent, seeks to ensure a continuous flow of innovation into the solution pipeline, tends progressively to the evolutionary change process, and works to engage an ever-so-resistant audience. Are you ready yet to rethink your position on what it means to be assertive? Given the full-spectrum manner in which the president leads along with the complexities of his administration’s charge, it seems perhaps premature to expect that his actions be more closure seeking at this juncture. Put another way, with respect to assertiveness, the president is showing strong indicators of foundational assertive traits. He is determined in his goals, assured in capability, unrelenting, and good at resourcing the work. On many fronts he has shown sound reactive assertiveness as well. He is resolute, willing to face difficulties, direct, and good at working through conflicts. He has seen many initiatives through and will no doubt, in time and with a balance of right- and left-brain blended skill sets, move the meter on his additional, bigger-ticket items as well.

Right Brain / Left Brain Summary
As each of the eight right- and left-brain guiding leadership behaviors have now been covered, we see the richness in leadership impact when these total brain behaviors work in consort. Obama leads from the right, affording a fertile starting point from which his equally capable left brain can then bring aspirations to life. While most if not all high-level leaders are to some extent multidominant, it is rare to find someone who is hardwired to act in such an integral manner. What you would instead find are leaders who rather constrict their multidominance, especially under


Right Brain/Left Brain President

stress. Obama, under stress, accelerates multidominance because it is so firmly a part of his nature. Two final guiding leadership behaviors are left to review. They are called the Plus Factors because they add to right- and left-brain success. Accessed properly, they can help drive right- and left-brain strong suits to greater levels. How will President Obama fare with respect to these pivotal leadership determinants? How do the president’s resilient and savvy traits contribute to his right- and left-brain leadership success?

to go through life and never. in Schweitzer’s language. resilient and savvy. have the view of looking in. The Plus Factors can be mistakenly overlooked in a leader’s development thinking. you are more likely to feel satisfied. beginning with his resilience. These two guiding behaviors are rightand left-brain enhancing and have direct bearing on how well you will execute the other eight behaviors. and mindset — your internal fortitude. focusing on what you need to know to tend to yourself. It . stamina. “A great success is to go through life as a man who never gets used up. Physical energy encompasses your health and fitness. Resilient leadership is defined as possessing the optimal physical and mental functioning. It is about how you modulate both your physical and psychological energy. Being resilient positions you to tap fully into your true potential. let us examine how the Plus Factors contribute to the president ’s efficacy. but because of their pivotal role in leadership effectiveness.Chapter 6 Obama and the Plus Factors: Sealing the Deal The Plus Factors. To make the case.”2 How does one accomplish this. Psychological energy is somewhat more complex. It asks too little of yourself. “get used up”? It’s all a matter of balance. Resilient Energy Focusing your life solely on making a buck shows a certain poverty of ambition. Albert Schweitzer remarked. When you are at your best physically and mentally. Resilience is critical to your sense of accomplishment and well-being. they demand concerted attention. Because it’s only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you realize your true potential. — Barack Obama 1 The Plus Factor resilient addresses how well you are able to deal with difficult times and stretch yourself beyond existing capabilities.

In all groups we would find individuals who are resilient in large part because of their ability to effectively leverage multiple aspects of energy.1 shows the complete Energy Model mapped to the traits of resilient leadership. To be positive your body . physical readiness. block out distractions. To initiate your energy you need momentum. and think freely • Tolerant — accepting of differences • Flexible — able to adjust or accommodate when necessary • Spiritual — seeing beyond yourself to how you contribute in a broader sense. Still others may name those known for heroic acts or extraordinary accomplishment. and how you ultimately react. your constructive focus on opportunities and possibilities. Figure 6. Who comes to mind for you when you think of being resilient? Some would cite individuals with exceptional physical and mental skill and endurance — Olympic athletes. and a mindset oriented toward success. for example. how you reach conclusions. Obama-Style Energy initiation is driven by the resilient trait positive. wellness.98 Right Brain / Left Brain President is about your outlook. and rejuvenation 3 Each of the ten resilient traits support one or more of these features. accountable to a greater good • Physically fit — practicing sound lifestyle habits. Others would think of activists who have sacrificed and taken on great personal hardship to advance a cause. Obama has certainly joined the ranks of those known for extraordinary accomplishment. aware of and managing your health • Fulfilled — feeling a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction about your life • Relaxed — able to decompress from stress • Environmental — making nature a part of your personal and professional development Positive Thinking. your thought process. Compare the model specifics to the following traits of resilient leadership: • Positive — having constructive focus on opportunities and possibilities • Emotionally sound — able to cope with stress and difficulties as demonstrated by your behavior • Clear thinking—able to sort through confusions. The Energy Model In the model for right brain/left brain leadership we think of energy in terms of having three defining features: • Initiation — how we activate and motivate ourselves • Funneling — what we do and how we do it • Recovery — our health.

after all. How you then view the day ahead is another key element to accelerating optimum energy. Throughout that campaign we saw in Obama a positive presidential hopeful. as president-elect. presidential race had such thoughts. day after day.S. That presidential campaign was a long and hard-fought battle. smiling with confidence that they will be elected? Certainly those of us watching the 2008 U.1 Energy Model for Traits of RESILIENT Leadership must be poised to act. As blood circulation increases our bodies wake and mobilize. giving speeches. deep breaths and light stretching upon rising can enhance the process. Physical activation occurs in part as the natural process of waking and moving about. armed with the slogan “yes we can. Obama moved through the transition phase of his appointment with the same optimistic mindset. He was.Obama and the Plus Factors 99 Figure 6. Have you ever watched national campaigns unfold and asked yourself how the candidates keep going. shaking hands. your attitude set in optimistic mode. Next. Throughout his first year .” and yes they did. Slow. How the candidates were able to initiate their energy contributed to their staying power.


Right Brain/Left Brain President

in office, amid tenuous times, he remained encouraging. To date he continues to be constructively upbeat. While there are many things in life we can’ t control, thankfully our attitude is one we can —“yes we can.” A positive frame of mind from a leadership standpoint is to welcome challenges and stay focused on opportunities, on the future, on hope. Brazilian teacher, philosopher and activist Paulo Freire has been known as one of the most influential educators of our time, referenced here for his fervor concerning joy and hope. For Freire, living through joy in the present and hope in what lies ahead positions us for success. In his book Pedagogy of Freedom: Ethics, Democracy, and Civic Courage, Freire writes, “In truth, from the point of view of the human condition, hope is an essential component and not an intruder . . . Hope is a natural, possible, and necessary impetus in the context of our unfinishedness. Hope is an indispensible seasoning in our human historical experience. Without it, instead of history we would have pure determinism . . . A future that is inexorable is a denial of history.”4 Freire’s lifework was with the oppressed and impoverished. Hope was primal to emancipation. Joy in our humanity and hope in our prospects paved the way for advancement, for new heights. Interestingly, for Freire, through hope one becomes not clouded by rose-colored glasses but rather more open-minded to the full spectrum of circumstances. Hope encourages our willingness to critique, to question, and to denounce what is unjust in order to move toward ultimate fairness. It is by shoring ourselves up with what is possible that we can more readily face our existing shortcomings. Obama too is a champion of hope. Captivated by the phrase and sermon of his preacher on “the audacity of hope,” Obama’s campaign reflected this inspiration, that from hope we can better scrutinize our current dissatisfactions. On hope Obama said, “Hope — hope in the face of difficulty. Hope in the face of uncertainty. The audacity of hope! In the end, that is God’s greatest gift to us, the bedrock of this nation. A belief in things not seen. A belief that there are better days ahead.”5 In Freire-like fashion, to be positive is to hold joy as one of life’s most precious commodities. It is a “life’s simple pleasures ” frame of mind that Obama first learned from his mother, carried forth to how he captions his life today. For Obama as for Freire, there is joy in the here and now and aspiration in what is to come. Complacency and despair have no place. Obama is above all positive in what we can and should seek. His right-brain charismatic and motivational traits along with his left-brain personable nature are rooted in this resilient trait, that of a positive spirit. Similarly, his innovative playfulness and transformational openness to learning are primed by his positive hopeful approach.

What He Does and How He Does It
Soon after Obama took office he began appointing his cabinet. News was breaking that Hillary Clinton was to be named secretary of state. Media sharks were

Obama and the Plus Factors


smelling blood in the water. At a press conference one reporter provocatively questioned the president about negative references he made about Clinton during the campaign, in particular about her foreign policy inexperience. The president smiled, looked at the reporter, and laughingly said something to the effect of, “You like to have fun with this, don’t you?”6 His comment composed him and put the audience in check. He made additional comments about Clinton’s fit for the job. The case was closed. Energy funneling speaks to our interactions and approaches. How well we funnel our energy is determined first and foremost by how emotionally sound we are. How well we cope with stress and difficulties, how stable and even-tempered we remain in the face of adversity, is what we look for in determining if someone is emotionally sound. Few would deny that Obama handles stress remarkably well. At each juncture of the campaign, when the heat was on Obama became calmer. In the later stages of the process, during a presidential debate Obama’s Republican opponent was showing signs of wear, referring to Obama as “that one” during an exchange. Obama smiled and let the remark pass while his promoters turned the competitor’s phrase into a bumper sticker. This is a man not easily rattled. Obama seems to offer up a sound array of coping skills to counter life’s stresses. Obama’s stress-resistant demeanor is additive to his left-brain grounded traits of composed and approachable along with his left-brain assertive traits confident, courageous, and candid. Given Obama’s adjustment skills he is better able to control his emotions, and it affords him the position of continuing to reach out to others even during the most contested of times. Obama’s ability to cope with stress can likewise afford him assurance in the heat of the moment. He can act with audacity and frankness ( yes he can) as he insists on a path forward. When, for example, the pressure was on Obama to make Wall Street gains the focus of his attention to right the economy, Obama flatly and courteously replied that Wall Street fluctuations alone were not driving his planning, that he had a broader view in mind. A less emotionally sound leader could have been unnerved by such a highprofile demand and perhaps either lashed out or sought to appease to deflect the pressure. Obama’s clear thinking, his ability to sort through confusions, block out distractions, and think freely, seems linked to his propensity for reflection. When you listen to Obama speak you note a thought flow with apparent embedded organization, with a nucleus and cell-like structure generated from it. The structure catches your attention. It is intricate, yet well formed and simply constructed. Such a thought process, especially coming from someone with so much on his plate, is indicative of both a complex thinker as well as someone who seemingly thrives on distilling involved views into straightforward concepts. Yet another aspect of Obama’s clear thinking is his ability to sort through apparent communication noise. Noise is a term in interpersonal communications theory defined as anything that interferes with the transmission of a message.


Right Brain/Left Brain President

Political environments are replete with noise. Noise is what powers the political engine. The more one side can obscure the other’s, the better chance they have of winning the contest of the moment. To think clearly, a leader has to be able to recognize noise and not be thrown by it. The leader must continue, in spite of the chatter, to think freely. Obama’s stress-resistant armor affords him the inclination to thwart the gnats buzzing incessantly around him. He is able to remain centered and to stay his course. On the noise of politics Obama commented, “Most people who serve in Washington have been trained either as lawyers or as political operatives — professions that tend to place a premium on winning arguments rather than solving problems.”7 At the 200th-day mark of his presidency Obama heard a round of criticisms concerning the many issues his administration was taking on, as well as the cost that such a charter would generate. Sorting through criticisms of this nature is an example of how his clear thinking was tested. Information was coming in from all sides, from media factions, from his Republican opponents, from his own party, and from citizen polls. Obama did not react to the disapproval with a sweeping change of course. He most probably contemplated it in broad right-brain fashion and then applied left-brain analytics, dissecting the situation from all sides as he continued forward. For a clear thinker, information is taken in and culled in open-minded fashion for its best use. Polarized thinkers, on the other hand, are those who have a particular view in mind and hear only that which supports their view. Yet another group, the so-called political thinkers, are those who simply shift to follow the resulting tides. Obama is a clear thinker. Clear thinking as an aspect of resilience affords a leader the best possible path to effective solutions. Clear thinking means that you are attuned to and understand information that is available to you and from which you draw sound conclusions. Two additional aspects of energy funneling are the traits tolerant and flexible. Being tolerant and flexible allows you to function from a greater range, accepting differing perspectives, willing to accommodate or adapt when necessary. Obama’s hardwired values for broad-mindedness, his apparent acceptance of others, and his adaptability to contexts come from the mindsets of those who raised him and the circumstances of his upbringing. Obama appears welcoming of diverse perspectives and, more importantly, seems matter-of-fact concerning differences, meaning that he seems to view heterogeneity as a given in life. Such an individual would spend little energy resisting what is different. Instead he would give his attention to understanding it. With respect to the final aspect of energy funneling, the spiritual sense of a leader, spiritual in this sense speaks to a greater accountability and purpose, that as a leader you are here to contribute not only to your work, but to the greater good. The Obama quote earlier in this chapter reads, “Focusing your life solely on making a buck shows a certain poverty of ambition. It asks too little of yourself.

varied measures are available that help us to be relaxed. and to assist us. it’s something you do. Four resilient traits comprise energy recovery. When you think like this — when you choose to broaden your ambit of concern and empathize with the plight of others. relaxed ( how you decompress and unwind ). He cites empathy as a necessary yet often neglected aspect of how to truly make a difference: You know. harder not to help. I find it startling. Recuperating from stress can be challenging. The development of one ’ s energy recovery is somewhat subjective. to see the world through the eyes of those who are different from us — the child who’s hungry. They are physically fit ( your health and habits). the steelworker who’s been laid off.10 For Obama. whether they are close friends or distant strangers — it becomes harder not to act.”8 Through this inspiration. wellness. Energy recovery looks at your health. In the final quote regarding the president ’s spiritual leadership trait. things that promote overall good health and beneficial lifestyle approaches are specified in the medical and wellness literature. With respect to being physically fit. and rejuvenation. But I think we should talk more about our empathy deficit — the ability to put ourselves in someone else’ s shoes. there ’ s a lot of talk in this country about the federal deficit. think only . It looks at short-term renewal — how you recover throughout the day or at the end of a long week. meaning a range of methods can net similar results. Energy recovery is critical to all leaders. Recharging the Energy Battery No matter how many times I see photographs of the progression of a president through his tenure. the resilient trait spiritual is about the responsibility of a leader to work always in service to others. how each president has aged. An additional statement from Obama further reinforces his spiritual inclination: “Faith is not just something you have. psychology professes certain indicators of satisfaction.”9 In this statement the president speaks to the need to act from and on our beliefs. yet certain practices apply. fulfilled ( how satisfied you are with your life ). It is especially vital to those with literally the weight of the world on their shoulders. With respect to the trait environmental. Regarding how fulfilled we are.Obama and the Plus Factors 103 Because it ’ s only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you realize your true potential. Obama conveys his spiritual propensity. and environmental ( your connection to nature). Obama addresses the impetus that empathy (understanding others from their perspective) can provide. the family who lost the entire life they built together when the storm came to town. Energy recovery also looks at your overall longevity.

In addition to family support. environmental. he points to his loving marriage and family life as his greatest ally on that front. I think a very good deal. . I mean one of the huge benefits of being president is I now have a nice home office. do we know about the president with respect to health. What. Obama’s physical workout routine not only promotes good health. Most if not all who occupy the Oval Office would have to subscribe to some form of exercise to meet the physically and mentally taxing demands of their position. Obama is known to be in top physical shape. and I go upstairs and I can have dinner with my family just about every night. and they can travel with me when they’re able. He also spent four years as a young child in Indonesia.13 In this excerpt you hear a satisfied man with treasured family support as his primary means of dealing with the stresses of his charge. then. . a setting of breathtaking environmental landscape amid a culture tied closely to nature. nothing is better at pulling you out of your world than having a couple of children. and rejuvenation? Regarding how physically fit he is. interview at the White House with BBC correspondent Justin Webb. Obama seems thrilled to be in his current role. In a June 1.104 Right Brain/Left Brain President of the undeniable. One can only assume that to have accomplished what he has was a good thing for Obama. He seems to be at. wellness. though. 2009. and I’m grateful that I’ve got such a wonderful wife and kids. That’s my main form of relaxation. he relaxes: Well. On the negative side. a place with very different and striking environmental imagery. but also serves to expediently discharge stress. And so we’ve got. the president has smoked but appears committed to winning the battle against that demon. As such he grew up satiated with environmental images that are now no doubt second nature–accessible to his brain. is a champion of physical fitness. He was featured in the November 2008 twentieth anniversary collector’s edition of Men’s Health magazine as one of the “20 Heroes of Health and Fitness. awe-inspiring feeling that comes over us when in the presence of nature’s grandeur to note how such a connection contributes to our energy recovery. if not beyond. how he can relax. To be connected to the physical world in this . The final resilient trait. Obama. Obama was raised beachside in Hawaii.”11 He subscribes to a rigorous exercise regime. So I’ve got a ten-year-old and a seven-year-old. the president made this reply to Webb ’s question concerning how. where he aspired to be and in a position to make the greatest impact of his life. With respect to the resilient trait fulfilled. given all that must be weighing on him. is also one that is strong for Obama.12 First Lady Michelle Obama made it a priority to plant a vegetable garden in the White House yard to reinforce and model the Obamas’ wellness orientation. He is an avid basketball player and purports to eat healthy foods and snacks. and they ’re planning pool parties and talking about homework and trying to figure out how to get the dog back on the leash . In terms of how well Obama is able to recuperate from the massive stress he is under.

Savvy 101 But challenging as they are it’s not the magnitude of our problems that concerns me the most. In concluding this section on the guiding leadership behavior resilient we recognize Obama for certain distinct buoyancies that will aid and support his right. you just have mostly bull. Through environmental triggers we are apt to pause and breathe in order to take it all in. And in Washington. Aristotle once remarked. It helps us to be accountable to our planet. Savvy leadership traits are: • Astute — perceptive concerning people and circumstances • Diplomatic — using tact in your sensitive interactions . what we need to attend to concerning the world in which we operate.and left-brain leadership effectiveness. is the ability to sense and respond appropriately to cultural climates. — Barack Obama14 Negotiating political landscapes and influencing key stakeholders can be a daunting task.Obama and the Plus Factors 105 way breeds into one’ s thinking a perspective of our own place in a vast universe. As such it is our external focus.”15 This noted philosopher’s perspective sums up the importance of savvy to any leader. with multiple rejuvenation strong suits. savvy. a fitting capstone for someone in Obama ’ s political context. climate in his opening remarks at a town hall meeting on August 14. . Given Obama’s concerns about what he refers to in the preceding quote as the “smallness of . Montana. in Belgrade. “Well. but he seems on solid ground. I’m thrilled to have a chance to spend some time with the folks in this beautiful state.C. It’s nice to take a break from the goings-on in Washington. Obama poked fun at the supercharged competitive D. After all. . It helps us to connect spiritually and to look at our position in the world in terms of what we truly can and can’t control. here in Montana you’ve got bears and moose and elk. The president has assumed office at a time that will no doubt test his energy recovery to the maximum. stating. “Man is by nature a political animal. 2009. The final guiding leadership behavior. How savvy you are will determine how in control you are of your image. it is the smallness of our politics.”16 Savvy as defined in the Right Brain / Left Brain Leadership Model. For Obama. Obama exists in an environment that is political to excess. He must act with consummate savoir faire.” he will also need to continuously address the complications generated by an overplayed political machine. politics. it is nice to be back. Aristotle’s point could not be more fitting. is next. We can more easily decompress and regain our center. to get things done in a way that advances both you and those organizations you are affiliated with— your external influence. Obama’s environmental connection is sure to play a role in his overall stable temperament.

in an artful grasp of the complexities .106 Right Brain/Left Brain President • Timely — aware of the right moment to make a point or deal with an issue • Subtle — able to work indirectly to influence people and situations • Culturally oriented — grounded in the culture of your group or organization and acting from that knowledge in how you influence those within that culture • Networking — developing personal and professional relationships that are mutually beneficial • Coalition building—bringing together those who share your causes. The first is awareness. views. Politicians can typically come across as tactful to a fault. On the importance of concentration Obama said. noting fine appreciations of the issues at hand. cultural and otherwise. impressions that are formed and shaped about you and what you are trying to accomplish. Awareness. Fundamental Awareness The first initiator of savvy is awareness. I always believe that ultimately. Obama is astute. He is attending to his surroundings. He approaches things with the help of a sensitive antenna. consisting of the following: • How well you know yourself • How accurate you are in understanding how others see you • How well you understand others and the world around you The savvy traits that help drive awareness are astute. The final foundational element of savvy is perception. The second savvy source is power. or involvements • Promotive — effectively lobbying for your and others’ issues and recognition • Assimilating — able to integrate into groups. It facilitates both intuitive insight and detailed scrutiny. Being astute begins with concentration. Being astute contributes to the right-brain ability to read between the lines and to left-brain analytics. both of which Obama appears to possess. Obama’s brand of tact seems rooted in a delicate appreciation of fine distinctions. like savvy itself. then we get good government and good leadership.17 Obama seems to indicate here that being perceptive — paying attention. Power is defined as the capacity to influence. as he examines contexts and perspectives. as he calls it — to people and circumstances is an important starting point. teams. making sense of it all. what you know or sense. Obama’s receptors leave him well poised to sense nuances. or cultures • Visible — being regularly seen There are three key determinants of savvy. diplomatic. To be diplomatic requires tact in your sensitive interactions. and timely. exists also as a three-legged stool. if people are paying attention.

to be open to learning along the way. . I know there’s been a lot of attention paid to some of the town hall meetings that are going on around the country. Everywhere — everywhere across the country you’ re seeing people who are coming together and having a civil. I held a town hall in New Hampshire. Some were big supporters of health insurance reform. he is discerning about the climate of discussions. The health care reform debate had at this point escalated to. Politically motivated sabotage of ideas and facts seemed to be plaguing the dialogue. And I want to thank you for coming here today in that spirit. Montana. But I was glad to see that people were there not to shout.V. That reflects America a lot more than what we’ve seen covered on television for the last few days. cultural. especially when tempers flare. . and much political posturing was taking place. rather than make separate reactive declarations. Obama’s diplomatic side was also in evidence during his address at Cairo University. Some were downright skeptical. health care touches all of our lives in a profound way. Obama did not respond at each and every juncture. loves a ruckus. and emotional disconnects. A few thousand people showed up. While being more astute makes it possible for you to develop better awareness. honest. Obama’s timely inclinations are evident in how he tends to infuse his positions into statements that he makes along the way. His focus is on providing an accurate perspective. indicating in this passage that health care reform is an important and personal matter. The discussions were wearing on. Obama will also tend to let discussion occur rather than curtail it prematurely. He waited for the right moments and settings to convey his . didn’t believe it could be done. unfortunate ugly spectacles. Health care reform is a case in point. Obama had this to say: .V. and what makes me proud are the many constructive meetings going on all over the country. where he had to tend diplomatically to old wounds and pronounced social. Now.Obama and the Plus Factors 107 that sensitive matters are laden with. As such. Some had concerns and questions. being more diplomatic and timely shows the ability to act from that awareness. What you haven’t seen on T. often difficult conversation about how we can improve the system. they were there to listen and to ask questions. making direct attempts to encourage a more positive tenor. Obama displayed his brand of diplomacy in teeing up his discussion of the contentious matter of health care reform in America.18 Obama begins most of his diplomatic messages with a validation or acknowledgment. Earlier this week. At the same town hall meeting in Belgrade. that the sensational outcomes we are watching on television in fact reflect only one skewed outcome of the full debate. that also makes this debate an emotional one. That’s how democracy ’s supposed to work. at its worst moments. stressing the need to talk through disagreements productively. as Obama does. Obama does this by setting a new tone. He then attempts to rebalance the conversation. T.

Networking is the next aspect of savvy that contributes to a leader’s ability to influence more effectively. recognizing fine distinctions as Obama does. He recognizes and validates cultural groups naturally. his savvy is enhanced appreciably. Buy-in is an interesting consideration when examining how one uses one’s power. in a formal address to Congress in which he directly called out the lines in the debate process that had been crossed. You are a heroic mom. So we are grateful to you. As a result of Obama’s background and key influences. and your son’s lucky.108 Right Brain/Left Brain President reasoning. His rise to the top was experienced in such a manner. but also to gain their perspective as well as their buy-in. A leader who networks more broadly. and opportunism make it more likely for Obama to develop and act from better awareness and therefore for his savvy acumen to benefit in kind. Inclusive networking is a key approach for Obama. Power and Influence Power is the capacity to influence. the president opened his remarks to the woman with this statement: First of all. a team-minded leader. culturally oriented. She began relating her story about caring for a child with special needs and the concerns she had about health care. At the same Belgrade. The overall point to make about Obama and awareness is that the strong suits he possesses in terms of insight. In that sense he is more of a gentle giant. tact. town hall meeting a mother was handed a microphone so that she could ask a question.19 This is a small. as Obama does. One’s power is enhanced by the savvy traits subtle. Such can be seen in his use of town hall meetings as an outreach format. He is able to work indirectly to influence people and situations. Positional authority or legitimate power is only one of six bases of power. yet important example of Obama’s adeptness at cultural recognition. one who seeks to work collaboratively and collectively. Obama’s more unassuming style lends itself to aspects of subtlety. Obama is keenly culturally oriented. as follows: . His method is indicative of a belief in networking as an opportunity not only to communicate directly with various constituencies. When a leader views his interactions through such a well-honed cultural lens. Montana. thank you for sharing your story. Recognizing the nuanced culture of parents of children with special needs. All that he is and knows engenders in him respect for and appreciation of what distinguishes us. Embedded in his acknowledgment of this woman is the detection of her special circumstance and affiliation. and coalition building. up from the simplest of beginnings but a steadily building tide that eventually amassed into a formidable presence. networking. is hoping to leverage forms of influence beyond positional authority. through town hall forums and ultimately.

Now. and expert power are accessed as well. Following his remarks was a question and answer period during which a student asked the president who he would select to have dinner with if he could do so with anyone now or in history. 2009. Today in his presidency he is using multiple forums and technologies at his disposal to reach out and connect the masses while working through his administration team to address Washington divisions. These latter forms of influence are in reality more potent as they result in sustainable impacts. one would have to acknowledge Obama for the coalition builder that he is. so if it hadn’t been for the nonviolent movement in India. In other words.Obama and the Plus Factors • • • • • • Reward — the ability to provide something that others value Coercive — the ability to set limits or reprimands Legitimate — authority by virtue of one’s position Persuasive — possessing and using information to convince Referent — influence derived from being admired Expert — possessing specific skills. or involvements. to inspire the start of the new school year. You know. views. King. Looking to how his campaign was constructed we can see his proclivity in this regard. They will make use of rewards and limit setting and they will exercise the weight of their rank. But he’s somebody who I find a lot of inspiration in. Through carefully constructed messages and mediums he was able to unite people across demographics to work toward common causes. leaders who work through the full continuum of power create change that becomes internalized to all concerned. He is also captivating and thereby able to put forth referent power as a matter of course. it would probably be a really small meal because —( laughter)— he didn’t eat a lot. An interesting excerpt from a September 8. Obama is an ingrained user of persuasive and expert power. The last aspect of power as an accelerant of savvy is the trait coalition building. address shows an overarching aspect of Obama’s perspective on power. He influences through information and expertise. knowledge. you might not have seen the same nonviolent movement for civil rights here in the United States. I think that it might be Gandhi. Leaders who rather rely on the upper part of the continuum tend to get buy-in that is only as good as the enforcement in place to back up compliance. The president went before students in Wakefield. by his ability to change how people saw each other and saw themselves — and help . Hand-in-hand with Obama’s networking style is his affinity for bringing people together who share causes. Ultimately successful in that the election was won against all odds. The president replied. and he — and what was interesting was that he ended up doing so much and changing the world just by the power of his ethics. He inspired Dr. Virginia. who is a real hero of mine. or expertise 20 109 Leaders less inclined to work through far-reaching networks will tend to stay within the confines of the first three bases of power. referent. He inspired César Chávez. They typically do not appreciate the value of full-throttle power whereby persuasive.

constructing perceptions to support a given position. but over time will such a person in fact win the war? This view of savvy leadership says yes. Notice his promotive tone.110 Right Brain/Left Brain President people who thought they had no power realize that they had power. Desired change may take longer. and then help people who had a lot of power realize that if all they ’ re doing is oppressing people. Perception as Reality Perception is reality. So I’m always interested in people who are able to bring about change. On any given day and for any given issue.21 Power for Obama is undoubtedly about the ability to make substantive contributions. perception. political or otherwise. How many differing views are there on health care reform. data. Obama also promotes through recognition. When being promotive we effectively lobby for issues and recognition. A potential savvy problem for Obama is in the backhanded manner in which others can and do conduct themselves. it is easy to find two individuals whose understandings differ. and visible for the answers. what some will stoop to in order to shape perceptions into their way of thinking. then that’s not a really good exercise of power. to empower others. not through violence. A leader such as Obama knows full well the bad behavior occurring around him and is taking steps to counter it slowly and patiently. can such an approach cost him? In the near term. or rather. Obama provides updates regarding progress and accomplishments. regularly praising and acknowledging. playing fair and expecting others to do the same. In addition to promoting through knowledge. Consider the following example from a September 1. not through money. and to foster moral principles through the most civilized of manners. He creates well-constructed arguments through what he considers to be objective informational accuracy. While his stance is admirable. And that’s somebody that I’d love to sit down and talk to. one who takes the savvy high road as Obama does can appear to be losing the immediate battle. then. press conference in the White House’s Rose Garden as Obama salutes positive signs in the economy before detailing the updates he was providing to the public on our H1N1 flu preparedness. but with a concerted moral savvy effort. What. and how different are perceptions from one individual or one faction to the next? Obama promotes through knowledge. but through the force of their personality and their ethical and moral stances. and expertise to communicate his points. for example. . Eventually those with hidden agendas and immoral ploys are exposed. Commendations are key elements of the trait promotive. is the nature of the game. 2009. In politics. is it about perception that will foster true savvy versus hyperpolitical savvy? We look to the traits promotive. He relies on facts. assimilating. it will be realized. Perception is in effect an interpretation.

Obama and the Plus Factors


Good afternoon, everybody. Before I say a few words about the meeting we just had I’d like to mention some good news that came out today about our economy. For the first time in eighteen months, our manufacturing sector has expanded, and the statistics used to measure manufacturing output is the highest it’s been in over two years. This means greater production of transportation equipment like cars, and electronic equipment like computers and appliances, and it means these companies are starting to invest more and produce more, and it is a sign that we’ re on the path to economic recovery. There’s no doubt that we have a long way to go, and I and the other members of this administration will not let up until those Americans who are looking for jobs can find them. But this is another important sign that we’re heading in the right direction, and that the steps we’ve taken to bring our economy back from the brink are working. Now, we just had a good meeting about our ongoing efforts to prepare this country for the H1N1 flu virus this fall. And I want to thank John Brennan, our CDC director Tom Frieden, and secretaries Sebelius, Napolitano, Duncan, and Locke for all the good work that they ’ ve been doing to get us ready today. . . . Our plans and decisions are based on the best scientific information available, and as the situation changes, we will continue to update the public. We ’ re also making steady progress on developing a safe and effective H1N1 flu vaccine, and we expect a flu shot program will begin soon . . . I want to commend every member of our team. I think we’ve done an extraordinary job in preparing for this flu outbreak. We anticipate that there will be some issues coming up over the next several months. The way it ’ s moving is still somewhat unpredictable, but what I’m absolutely confident about is that our team that ’ s assembled here has done an extraordinary job in preparing for whatever may happen. So we appreciate all of you for being here, and I want to publicly again thank you for all your extraordinarily hard work.22

Obama began by providing data to demonstrate gains on the economic front. He then called out each member of the preparedness team. Obama highlighted the team’s decision-making process, connecting it to state-of-the-art science while mentioning the status of the flu vaccine in development. In closing he again recognized the team’s exceptional efforts and endorsed their overall capability. Politicians are promotive by nature. It is, after all, their bread and butter, a critical way to solicit the endorsements of their constituents. Obama, like many of his fellow politicos, is adept at it, yet still in all, a cut above with his added flare of reverence. He is genuine in his praise and in his respect for what is accomplished when individuals work together. The savvy trait assimilating is also important in shaping the perceptions of others. Those who are assimilating are well able to integrate into groups, teams, and cultures. As a leader works to integrate she becomes more attuned to members’ perspectives and vice versa. The leader then gains important insights that can sculpt


Right Brain/Left Brain President

her approaches while simultaneously she can begin to share her views to a perhaps more receptive audience. The whole of Obama’s social world, growing up to the present day, required him to integrate and to fit in on a much deeper level than those who walk homogenous life paths. To assimilate is fundamental to him, something that as it turns out will serve him well. As president, Obama is expected to adapt quickly with respect to his responsibilities both at home and abroad. He is well poised to do so with his adaptive inclinations. The final savvy trait is visible. Perceptions are in part molded by how others experience you directly when in your presence. Toward the end of the second chapter the matter of heightened exposure of leaders was raised. The point made was that we are in a new age of access to each other. Leaders have more mediums through which they are openly observed. How you manage those opportunities determines how well you leverage your visibility. Obama is a high-visibility leader. He seems to believe in the value of staying connected and to making his key points in person. He has appeared in various settings and formats that cut across groups and factions as part of a platform of outreach. Companion to Obama’s stance on inclusion, his visible approach ensures ample connection to those he is empowered to serve. Obama’s willingness to be up close and personal also serves to make a formidable statement. It demonstrates a devotion to his convictions—who he is, what he stands for, and what he is setting out to accomplish.

Defining Moments
Developing better savvy has immeasurable benefits. Like its partner Plus Factor resilient, through the development of savvy traits, multiple right- and left-brain behaviors are enhanced. Critical to note is that one’s savvy acumen will determine whether, at certain defining moments, a leader will be able to access his full rightbrain / left-brain potential or rather default to habitual ways. Look first at the ways savvy is right- and left-brain enhancing. Through deeper awareness of your circumstances and personal position, you will be able to land on more astute strategic alternatives. Being culturally oriented, along with more timely, assimilating, and subtle in your approach, can drive more successful reinventions (augmenting transformational leadership). As you are more visible and keyed in, others have the opportunity to experience you as a more grounded leader. Your expressive and engaging skills also take on new dimension as you communicate in more diplomatic ways. Your ability to engage is also bolstered through a promotive tone, along with having ample support systems in place, the result of your networking and coalition building. Time will tell the impact as the president continues to work from his brand of savvy talent. As far as defining moments are concerned, Obama had one of many such moments to come on September 9, 2009. The president spoke to Congress and to the nation about health care reform. Media hype referred to it as his make-

Obama and the Plus Factors


or-break speech. As the president entered the congressional chamber he was warmly and enthusiastically greeted. He began his address in promotive fashion, praising the members for their successful actions over the past six months on behalf of the nation’s economic difficulties. The president then refocused the group on the future, specifically on health care reform. He was confrontational and emphatic, wanting the political posturing to end, differences to be resolved, and definitive action to be taken once and for all. Obama was specific in summarizing the facts of his proposed bill, its cost, and how it would be funded. Obama also called attention to the point that presently there was far more agreement than division across Congress on aspects of the plan. Throughout the address he traversed a fine line between recognizing examples of healthy debate while also expressing constructive intolerance of unacceptable competitive ploys. In many respects he was more provocative than we would normally see in such addresses. In concluding his address the president had this to say:
I understand how difficult this health care debate has been. I know that many in this country are deeply skeptical that government is looking out for them. I understand that the politically safe move would be to kick the can further down the road — to defer reform one more year, or one more election, or one more term. But that is not what the moment calls for. That ’ s not what we came here to do. We did not come to fear the future. We came here to shape it. I still believe we can act even when it’s hard. (Applause.) I still believe —I still believe that we can act when it’s hard. I still believe we can replace acrimony with civility, and gridlock with progress. I still believe we can do great things, and that here and now we will meet history ’ s test. Because that’s who we are. That is our calling. That is our character.23

In this defining moment, Obama ’ s savvy allowed him to access a broad range of right- and left-brain behaviors, rather than to be constrained by the stress of the moment. He was true to his convictions and wisely accessed alter-brain behaviors (those outside of his most favored preferences). In particular he well balanced his tried and true engaging manner with true assertive closure-seeking declarations. In this defining moment, the president’s savvy was well engaged as it not only served to help Obama accomplish what he is wanting to, but also enabled him to best realize his full leadership impact. With savvy as the last of the ten guiding leadership behaviors, the review of Obama’s unique right- and left-brain leadership proficiency is completed. We turn now to how you too can develop your leadership competence in a more fullspectrum manner, how you can become more Obama-like.

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referred to as leadership depth. Obama was depicted as acting with such breadth and depth. numerous facets exist that can and should be leveraged as a situation warrants. leaders must possess certain nuance propensities. The nature of his background and life experiences were shown to have contributed to what ultimately became his self-directed diverse leadership persona.and left-brain measures to enact your ideals.Chapter 7 Becoming More Obama-Like If we aren’t willing to pay a price for our values.and left-brain strong suits makes his brand of leadership uncommon and something to aspire toward. what we referred to as leadership breadth. values come with a price. whether your leadership ways emulate your beliefs. he needs to lead from a broad range of behaviors. is that for a leader of today to be truly successful. then we should ask ourselves whether we truly believe in them at all. we should be willing to work to realize them in our lives. such that within a given behavior. —Barack Obama1 From Values to Actions The preceding six chapters have taken you through a unique leader’s rise to the top and actions therein. leadership begins and ends with one’s values. That Obama is able to move in a seemingly fluid and continuously integrated manner across right. you would begin by considering the nature of your leadership values. This book’s premise. then. Additionally. From Obama’s perspective. From that point you would look to create a full range of right. . A leader needs to act across rightand left-brain abilities. What is clear is that for Barack Obama. In becoming more Obama-like in your leadership.

He is guided by a phenomenology of consciousness. Leadership Must-Haves Ten Obama leadership imperatives will be identified. He relies on keen intuition to get past surface renderings for deeper meanings and messages. As Obama moves . • Transformational— Seek evolutions. As you examine these leadership imperatives. think of the bigger picture. Only then can you determine your path. looking for the nature of experiences. The book will leave you with inspirations from other great leaders whose messages are in line with those of Obama. Such honesty is the first step in paying that price for what you believe in. Be tuned in to critical junctures that might either help or hinder your direction. You will also have the opportunity to assess your strengths and weaknesses relative to the Right Brain / Left Brain Model and to settle on certain leadership development options. Now is the time to come to understand how you are. As a result. begin to think about your own development opportunities. one of continuous learning and continuous improvement. You will then be provided with tools to help address gaps and exercise brain-style shifts more lithely. He does not constrict process but rather encourages the debate of ideas and the soliciting of input from various. Obama is a pioneer artist with an appreciation for novelty. Obama relies heavily on reflection to accurately understand the present circumstance and to vision what the best possible future state would look like. hence. not how you prefer to be. Right-Brain Line of SITE Imperatives • Strategic—Think before you act. even competing. to a range of potential solutions. • Innovative—Examine problems from multiple angles and vantage points. and be able to read between the lines to get to the heart of the matter. We begin with the listing of Obama’s key leadership strong suits distilled into a top ten list. He is open to the unconventional and. Have a change mindset. His playful spirit opens his mind and others to the imaginative and leads the way to more groundbreaking possibilities. searching for a creative cross-pollination of ideas (and don’t be afraid to have some fun along the way). Perhaps now is a good time to ask yourself how painfully honest you are willing to be concerning your shortcomings in order to improve. not revolutions. Understand as you do so that this is the time for you to be as forthright with yourself as possible. each corresponding to one of the ten guiding leadership behaviors. Critical to any development process is personal candor— seeing yourself in an accurate light. He pushes the intellectual envelope through curiosity of cause in hopes of promoting groundbreaking outcomes.116 Right Brain/Left Brain President In this final chapter we will distill Obama’s strengths in executive summary fashion into a listing of leadership must-haves. beginning first with those of the right-brain guiding leadership behaviors. constituencies. his strategies are set from a foundation of broad and sustainable thinking.

He is able to confront quite well through constructive intolerance. believing first and foremost that a leader must act through direct compassion. driving further alignment between what he says and how he says it. but of simply serving his charge. He is a believer in the power of incremental change. keep your cool. Once his declarations are made. progressive approach. don’t back down. Obama stresses the importance of empathy in leadership interactions. He recognizes that listening is not a soft attribute. He allows others the time to reconcile their differences and to find their place in the work at hand. and once you do. and credible. He places high value on learning and on knowledge.Becoming More Obama-Like 117 through transformations he subscribes to a step-by-step. He subscribes to letterof-the-law accountability. at times entertaining. He relies on the analysis of facts and circumstances to solve problems and come to conclusions. aimed at keeping apprised of progress. and he adjusts his course accordingly. His seems not the direction of hidden agendas or power plays. and realism will get the job done. and an even better inspiration and others will surely follow you. focus. . He is concise. generating energy and involvement in his wake. Obama’s self-control is probably fostered by the fact that he is at moral peace with himself and his goals. he models what he expects. He does his best to talk the talk and walk the walk. One of Obama’s defining features is his stability. not to personal agendas or contrived rules of convenience. nor are we subjected to annoying mannerisms or maddening rhetoric. and when you think you are through. and then goes a few steps further to be interesting. a great model. He is a powerful charismatic. • Engaging —Let empathy keep you human. He looks to keep a sharp focus on the top matters at hand and recognizes the importance of remaining practical. • Expressive—Communicate. Obama leads from a moral base. He has a watchful eye. Obama is highly regimented and orderly in his approach. Obama gives a certain amount of leeway. punching out salient points. communicate again! Obama is the quintessential communicator. and how to draw your line in the sand. and always relating matters at hand personally to his audience. articulates the substance of the message. Thankfully. he is apt to follow through with the required fervor. The next four imperatives are left brain in origin. Left-Brain MEGA Mind Essentials • Methodical—Discipline. the interpersonal side of leadership is a vital element of a leader’s ultimate charge. For Obama. His aim is to be a good steward. but a vehicle to assist leaders in steering their course. where. his calm. communicate. He is repetitive when appropriate. He tends to the nonverbal attributes of messaging. he is easy to listen to. When delivering messages he tees up conversations well. • Assertive—Know clearly when. • Grounded — Always act with integrity and above all. using both firm demarcations and rational arguments —why and how things must and will change. He sees also what can be accomplished through unremitting efforts. clear. He does not drone on. Be a good listener. He also knows full well when enough is enough. as important contributors to any change process. with all that we need to know from him directly.

The leader’s Line of SITE and its behaviors— strategic. 3. He stays hopeful and upbeat. and assertive— make possibilities a reality. The leader’s MEGA mind and its behaviors—methodical. is fueled by close personal contacts. This counterintuitive approach begins by looking out at possibilities. His Plus Factors are ingrained into his mode of operating. He loves what he does. and engaging—conceptualize what is possible and secure the buy-in needed from those around you to get you there. and above all. 4. and is always looking to make extended favorable impacts. information. For Obama. The saying “two heads are better than one” comes to mind. grounded. He works through broad factions. with a farreaching antenna. Obama leads from the right and well incorporates in his left brain partner. shift style. When stuck in a preference. In addition to these leadership must-haves.and left-brain behaviors (accessing alter-brain behaviors) will generate greater forward momentum and greater opportunities for success.2 . transformational. work your systems. A synergy is any combined effort that nets a greater result. especially when challenged. influencing skills. innovative. The Plus Factors —resilient and savvy— are ever-present adjuncts to bolster and secure your overall effectiveness.118 Right Brain/Left Brain President Obama and the Plus Factors • Resilient — Stay positive. groups. not from those derived solely from rank and stature. Obama is a consummate politician in the best sense of the word. and being cognizant of the perceptions of others will shape the deciding votes. Shifting between right. always available to support his overall approaches. • Savvy—Pay attention. never take the bait. Orient your leadership from right to left. Be willing and able to push beyond your core inclinations for greater impact. not harder. He is acutely aware. so you should. Work differently. He influences from a full set of power bases. and ensure the self-care necessary for you to meet the demands of your work. and resources. Obama is a firm believer in teamwork and collaboration. Recognize your preferences. fundamental awareness. too. expressive. and channels to build allies and is clearly accessible so that his positions and accomplishments are evident. Those are the top ten ways in which you can aspire to harness the leadership breadth and depth of this exemplar. but to help him to de-stress from the massive demands of his job. using his workout regime to not only stay healthy and fit. Know when they work in your favor and when they don’t. remember also to consider the following four points that crystallize the Right Brain /Left Brain Leadership Model fundamentals: 1. Your brain thrives on them. He is also a wellness icon. Look for collective ways that you and those you interact with can pool knowledge. Obama is an attitude role model for sure. In the end. Obama relies regularly on an array of behaviors and traits beyond those that are his cornerstones. 2. keep the greater good clearly in sight. fluidity in thought and approach is central to his appeal and overall effectiveness. Promote synergies.

Note specifically where you see some of your greatest strengths as well as certain gaps or opportunities. In this case. think about your leadership values—what you believe in— what defines who you are and how you would like to lead. Consider how Obama brings them to life. giving you a visual reference to stimulate your thinking as well. and you are well meeting your leadership challenges. Instructions on how to complete the activity are found in the shaded box below. Next you will need to accurately and more precisely assess your leadership strengths and development opportunities to correctly land on the best possible action steps. Try to imagine the nature of your interactions. This exercise will help you consider your leadership effectiveness overall—how you presently function versus how you would ultimately like to lead. keeping in mind what you learned about Obama’s right brain/ left brain leadership. Such data come to us as development feedback. INITIAL REFLECTION/VISIONING For this activity you’ll need to open up a new document on your computer and call the file Initial Reflection/Visioning. it is a means of providing accurate views of our leadership strengths. You are leading in alignment with your values. A blank sheet of paper and a pen or pencil with the title written across the top will also do just fine. Another diagram of the model is provided in Figure 7. Following that summary paragraph. think about what you have learned about the Right Brain/Left Brain Leadership Model. Think about what is the same and what is different from how you lead today. Open your eyes and construct a short paragraph of your thoughts. To do so you will need the benefit of various forms of data.Becoming More Obama-Like 119 Your Call to Action The following reflection and visioning activity will start you on your development path. You are going to think about two things. Feedback: A Key Ingredient Feedback is knowledge through which we can deepen our awareness. First. Now close your eyes and envision that it is one year from today. Next. what works in our leadership favor. A reflection and visioning activity such as this is an effective way to get started. put into words your leadership vision. how you are carrying yourself and constructing your day relative to the ten guiding leadership behaviors. Go back and look over the ten leadership imperatives that were presented earlier in this chapter. Record any thoughts that come to mind. Feedback can also help us understand what we need to focus on to better meet leadership challenges. Feedback serves as an important .1.

cutting off potentially valuable information concerning your ultimate success. or by demeanor we observe when in someone’s presence. it always has some truth to it. being open to it. relayed through someone. Some may simply choose to dismiss unpleasant feedback. and then interpreting it.120 Right Brain/Left Brain President Figure 7. There is an art to receiving feedback. It takes an investigative mindset to understand its true meaning.1 Right Brain/Left Brain Leadership Model ( Partial) check and balance to what we believe to be so concerning how we function as leaders. especially when it is about the problematic. while a piece of feedback may appear to be incorrect. Formally we can receive feedback through performance appraisals and through prescribed leadership assessment tools. Feedback can come to us formally and informally.3 . Informally we can ask a colleague. a boss. Feedback can be expressed to us directly or we can glean it by observing others’ reactions. When gathering informal feedback or observing others’ reactions. However. or a direct report to comment on some aspect of our performance. it is important to separate out facts from assumptions and to test our assumptions. making certain they are accurate. Feedback can be expressed to us directly from a source or can come to us indirectly. Feedback may not always be accurate itself —it may carry with it the misperceptions of its carrier.

to get things done in a way that advances both you and those organizations you are affiliated with ___ Innovative: To have an open mind and be able to think creatively without restraint . Seek feedback from a variety of sources as a key part of your development process — don’t rely solely on your own perspective. Look for themes and converging lines of evidence to help focus your development targets. 2. and determined to get the desired results ___ Transformational: To drive change in cultures. Recognize that dealing with feedback is a skill. direct. Ask yourself what each piece of feedback is telling you and be sure to separate factual data from assumptions. and actions ___ Strategic: To be proactive and visionary. Consider the source and the context of feedback and interpret feedback on that basis. formally and informally. to rate yourself on each of the ten guiding leadership behaviors. What is the feedback telling you? Take a few minutes to summarize what you are hearing about how others experience you as a leader. It will help position you in your next step. 3. direct and indirect. to have the long-range view ___ Savvy: To sense and respond appropriately to the cultural climates. especially from those you trust. teams. Behaviors are intentionally listed in random order. Breadth Analysis Soliciting and making good use of feedback will help make your development assessment more accurate. Using the Leadership Behavior Rating Form below.Becoming More Obama-Like 121 The Takeaways about Feedback Are This: 1. but it is good for you in the long run. You may use a narrative or list format. LEADERSHIP BEHAVIOR RATING FORM ___ Assertive: To be upfront. While feedback isn’t always easy to deal with—the analogy could be likened to taking your medicine —it may not taste great. Think for a moment about the feedback you have received. Note any patterns or themes along with any inconsistencies between how others see you and how you see yourself. There are many other helpful vantage points to consider. as you will have the benefit of varying perspectives to augment your own. Put on your detective hat and try to reconcile discrepancies. and individuals relative to values. actually more like an art. for each of the ten behaviors rate yourself on a scale from 0 to 10 with 10 being flawless (and as such highly improbable). remembering that this is the time to be brutally honest with yourself. thoughts. recently and over time. Test any and all assumptions.

Your highest ratings should reflect your typical leadership style.and left-brain attributes but still with certain gap areas on one or both sides of the right. you may notice that the dotted lines that were shown when the model was introduced are not on this version. To give you a way to rate your depth strengths and opportunities. Additionally. to be systematic and effectual in your approach to initiatives ___ Grounded: To act with integrity. to be the steward and the gauge4 Looking over your ratings. Obama’s preference is more toward the engaging. Typically leaders are stronger in left-brain behaviors and need bolstering and reorienting to the right. stamina. to validate. involve. A sample circle diagram is provided below. Behaviors with lower scores should provide options for increasing your leadership breadth. note your behavioral preferences (those behaviors on which you scored highest). I’ve provided you with circle diagrams for each of the ten behaviors and corresponding traits in the book’s appendix. while he is first and foremost strategic. you will also need to consider how to promote greater depth acumen within each of the ten behaviors. How might certain of his patterns also serve you? For instance. his alter-brain methodical skill comes in as his needed detailed planner for present tasks. in that if you accessed them more regularly. and recognize others and to help them take on responsibility ___ Resilient: To possess the optimal physical and mental functioning.and left. yet he knows how and when to shift style to the assertive to confront and bring needed closure to matters. consistency. Using these pielike charts you . Recall if you can typical Obama-like style shifts. and stability. you could be more effective. open to possibilities and leading to envisioned future states. ways in which the president moves fluidly around the model. possessing certain right. Is that what you are finding? Or are you multidominant.122 Right Brain/Left Brain President ___ Expressive: To clearly communicate your thoughts both formally and informally while providing the necessary context ___ Engaging: To understand and work well with others. Looking again at the Right Brain / Left Brain Model diagram provided in Figure 7. and mindset ___ Methodical: To plan well.1. Note also one or two breadth targets (behaviors that you scored lowest on). They were left off purposely in order for you to visualize your own potential style shift opportunities.brain equation? Depth Analysis While the Leadership Behavior Rating Form will help pinpoint opportunities for developing greater leadership breadth.

com. and holistic.Becoming More Obama-Like 123 Figure 7. You can also find electronic copies of these forms at www. Take a moment to go to the appendix and look over the blank pie charts for each behavior. and approaches. Figure 7.2 you can see a fictitious leader’s depth rating for the traits of strategic leadership. Dots placed closer to the center of the circle represent low scores on a given trait.leadlifeinstitute.2 Sample Ratings for Traits of STRATEGIC Leadership can note where you stand with respect to your leadership depth. To lead from the right and to meet strategic challenges. this leader will need to find ways to become broader and more inclusive in her orientation. Complete your depth assessment for each of the ten guiding leadership behaviors. This leader’s strategic constraints are illustrated through lower scores on big-picture oriented. Connecting the dots gives you a picture of your depth strengths and gaps. thinking. .2 shows an example of a completed chart for the behavior strategic. In Figure 7. global. Dots closer to the outside rim of the circle represent higher ratings. Remember to consider the information from feedback sources as you decide on your ratings.

Leaders are already stretched with respect to time. you will need to put this information into accessible summary form. describing specifically how working on these three aspects of your leadership will help you. In the STOP-START-CONTINUE chart below.124 Right Brain/Left Brain President Setting Priorities With your leadership vision in mind and when looking over your breadth and depth assessments. beginning with the STOP category. in the section headed CONTINUE you will list three to four actions that serve you well—those that define your favorable leadership preferences. Record a brief rationale for each selection. in a paragraph for each target. The simplest perhaps is something commonly referred to as a STOP-START-CONTINUE. creating a process for future leadership development work. As a means of more directly connecting with our exemplar. After this initial six-month period you can repeat the process and identify new targets. where can you get the best return on your development investment? Once your priorities are set you are ready to create your plan. START actions can promote greater breadth or depth and will ensure adequate movement across the right. something you can easily keep in front of you. As the final step in your call to action. at this moment in your career and given your current responsibilities and existing capabilities. actions. Prioritizing your development efforts is critical. There are many possible formats to use. . note an Obama-like reminder to inspire you. actions that will be new and additive to your current style. There are only so many hours in the day. Lastly. Identify three leadership development targets—what you will concentrate your improvement efforts on over the next six months. something that either was cited here in this book or you know of on your own. The objective is to think strategically about how you will achieve your greatest impact. In other words. Ask yourself. you will indicate three to four actions you will eliminate from your repertoire altogether. Under the START section you will list three to four actions that you will need to initiate. It could be one of his decisions. Think of this as an initial set of development priorities. Indicate what aspects of your work will show greater effectiveness and how. The Plan The assessment steps taken thus far include the completion of a leadership vision. An example is provided in the boxed worksheet below. Trying to take on too much may simply not be doable. note how your leadership will be enhanced as you improve in each area. You could be listing an item that represents an overplayed strength. a bad habit. you will now need to prioritize your top development opportunities. or something that no longer serves you in your present role. or slogans.and left-brain plane. Actions specified in your CONTINUE column represent that which you wish to maintain as tried-and-true strong suits. the culling of developmental feedback. and the selection and prioritization of development targets. next to each action.

all that is left is to provide you with tools to assist you. This tool would be helpful as it would enable you to start small and build your new. Right Brain/Left Brain Leadership: Shifting Style for Maximum Impact. like the guiding leadership behaviors. This tool is in alignment with Obama’s position on progressive change. old habits will return. One such possibility is a tool called chaining. If you were to use chaining to . These tools. They emanate from how certain theoretical perspectives view behavior and. that once a goal is identified you keep working toward it in incremental steps. A full assortment of development tools can be found in this text’s parent book. You are then more likely to take advantage of opportunities for either stopping a given mannerism and/or adding a new leadership tact. Using the preceding example. therefore. are either right brain. For our purposes. Fortunately certain tools are available to assist you. fifteen tools have been selected that best complement Obama-like actions. health. The methodology for using development tools would be to look over the desired actions indicated in your STOP-START-CONTINUE and identify a tool to help you put each action in play. you would look for a left-brain tool. to stop wavering when things are difficult. Development tools come from schools of thought in psychology and from the fields of interpersonal communications. you would look through the fifteen tools that follow and identify one that could help you. Select a tool that matches the action. The brain is unfortunately habitual —unless otherwise repeatedly directed. Since the brain can be in essence locked in certain habitual patterns of conduct. defined as taking successive steps to a desired goal.Becoming More Obama-Like 125 STOP-START-CONTINUE STOP Actions Depth trait tenacity: Stop wavering when things seem difficult START Actions CONTINUE Actions “Yes we can” Obama-like inspiration With your development actions clearly in mind. how they approach behavior change. left brain. since the action you are seeking to develop falls under the left-brain behavior assertive. tools help to gently open your mind to other options. In this case. or supportive ( Plus Factor–based). Tools facilitate the development of a new action. Tools of the Trade Changing behavior is never easy. and wellness. more tenacious stance progressively. It takes specific effort and focus.

what with this new product we’re testing. not simply one that reflects content or facts. reflection. but there have been a lot of distractions. trial and error. or empathy Brainstorming: Generating ideas or options in a free-flowing manner Drawing: Creating pictures to convey thoughts Reflection: Considering the nature of or looking back over something Visioning: Imaging a future state through a mental picture5 Taking one right-brain tool at a time in more depth. and the new. beginning with active listening. It consists of three components: attending. and validating. emotions. You don’t parrot his words but in your own words capture the essence of what is being said. Right-brain tools are summarized in the shaded section below.126 Right Brain/Left Brain President stop wavering. Consider this example of simple listening versus active listening between a boss and a direct report. and visioning. You are looking to express meaning. You attend to what the other person is saying. drawing. What does the other person feel? What meaning does the situation have for him? You paraphrase back what you heard. RIGHT-BRAIN TOOLKIT Active listening: Listening attentively for meaning. the recent layoffs. paraphrasing. brainstorming. Right-Brain Tools Right-brain tools are based on humanistic and affective perspectives of psychology and focus on awareness. implications. Active listening is a thought-based listening approach. meaning listening for understanding. the whole. the unstructured. not just the words or the topic. What is important is that you get to an experience-based understanding. Validation is a gut check giving the other person an opportunity to tell you how close or far off you are and to provide you with additional information if necessary. but to the nature of their experience. this important tool is the key element of empathy. Tom? Direct Report: We’re getting there. SIMPLE LISTENING APPROACH Boss: How’s it going. . you would identify something small that you could assert yourself on and continue to up the ante from there. The right-brain development tools you will be learning are active listening.

tap into the brain’s vast nonverbal resources? For most of us. When you brainstorm you write down whatever comes to mind. Boss: OK. what with this new product we’re testing. three key issues. and I think at least talking through some of the role changes and timelines might help ensure that we pull this off. we hardly ever do. no good or bad ideas. but this one may be tricky. It puts our mind on an innovative track. you are saying that there is some added complexity. and I know if anyone can handle it. We abandoned our crayons and finger paints back in kindergarten for paper and pen and now also cling to our laptops. How often do we stimulate. you shift style to your left brain and apply methodical organization to glean the best possible options. the recent layoffs. you can. and it can foster engaging dialogues. Make it a playful event. Blackberries. let’s set some time aside soon to do just that. There are no right or wrong answers. and Palms. The point is to open up your mind initially through innovation — to begin on the right side of the brain. but there have been a lot of distractions. Sleep seemed our only verbal escape. in fact. Boss. newspapers. it can assist at various transformational junctures. and magazines and are satiated with dialogue from reality television. not an intellectual one. but this one may be tricky. Put on some music. We are constantly exercising the verbal areas of our brain. for the relationship. can help us to become more creative. until now.Becoming More Obama-Like and the restructuring of people’s roles. The next right-brain tool. Drawing is a hidden gem of a leadership tool. access. well lots to do. Tom. Boss. When you are through. . type and when we’ve had enough. We read books. We talk and talk and talk and type. 127 ACTIVE LISTENING APPROACH Boss: How’s it going. Thoughts are generated without structure. Think about how much of our lives are verbal. Using active listening can promote better strategic decisions. iPhones. take out a large sheet of paper and some multicolored crayons or markers. I’m up for a challenge. Boss: So. we talk and type some more. type. that are impacting how this will all shake out? Direct Report: For sure. Boss: OK. then. and for the development of the direct report. brainstorming. I’m up for a challenge. In this illustration the leader became alerted to potential problems and unearthed an opportunity for a collaborative discussion with his direct report that will serve multiple enhancing purposes for the work. and the restructuring of people’s roles. Brainstorming is simple. Tom? Direct Report: We’re getting there. and begin.

If you are using drawing. The basic aim is to better understand the nature of something. visioning and drawing. and steps. The left- . a reflection can be done in a number of ways. each can promote future (strategic) thinking as well as help gauge and facilitate various aspects of transformational and engaging leadership. helps us to learn and to give deeper and more open consideration to something. they often fall by the wayside. it can be used to assist you with virtually any development action. for example. This is not about artistic ability. never followed through on. Think of New Year’s resolutions—however well intended. but then we seem to have difficulty following through. sketches. The final right-brain tool is a reflection. they both drive the innovative. Then describe in words what the picture conveys. These two tools can help build your creative proclivities. associations. Left-Brain Tools Left-brain tools are based on behavioral and cognitive approaches of psychology and focus on logic. a reflection can foster any and all aspects of right-brain leadership. Drawing is in fact so very potent a development tool. the present state on the top half of the paper and the desired state on the bottom half. Overall a reflection provokes insight. now you can draw your way to your nonverbal power. structure. Referenced at several points in the preceding chapters as a key tool of Obama’s and at the outset of this section of the text. and honest consideration provides an advantage that we didn’t have before. and relaxing. Additionally. or diagrams (no words). New Year’s resolutions are often nothing more than a wish list. We know we are not satisfied with some aspect of our lives. Construct an image. As a leadership development tool a reflection is most helpful when you are seeking to better understand your behavior. giving the matter careful. open. and from that point we can perhaps set a better plan. While we don’t know if Obama uses drawings or brainstorming per se. Sometimes the best starting place with behavior change is through the added awareness a reflection can bring. encourage the imagination. to create a physical image as in a drawing or a mental image as you did earlier in the chapter’s visioning activity. and we can easily know what we want to do differently. repetition. we do know that he is well inclined to the innovative. The process for drawing is straightforward. You now have two ways to vision. This is about tapping into your uncensored brain. In this sense you are also visioning. using symbols. Reflecting first on something you would like to change or accomplish. to help you become more future focused in your strategies. easy. so let that excuse go. As such. Change is not easy and behavior change is harder still.128 Right Brain/Left Brain President Simple. Both of these right-brain tools. using two right-brain tools simultaneously. Our perspective is better informed. you could fold the paper in half and create before-andafter depictions. as a first step in trying to alter or better leverage your impact.

this marvelous little tool uses a phrase. As such. while chaining is in our left-brain toolkit. a picture. Cuing has immeasurable value in the behavior change process. she relays the image of a spider weaving a web. It is 11:30 on a Wednesday and she has just completed a small project.Becoming More Obama-Like 129 brain tools you will be learning about are described in the shaded box below and include behavior rehearsal. chaining. a quote. When asked what comes to mind when she thinks of networking. Her cue is now always in plain sight. In particular. She tells her brain to associate the spider with her need to get out of her office and interact with others in a more directed and continuous manner. quote. It involves practicing something over and over or roleplaying until the desired ability becomes second nature. It is an alert of sorts that tells the brain you need something different from it at a particular moment. She closes the document and notices her spider. She is reminded to network. it can help us to tackle just about any development goal by working one step at a time. she needs to change how she works in order to build stronger networks. It can help those with expressive leadership gaps become more adept and confident speakers. The very nature of behavior rehearsal contributes to one’s methodical tendencies. She goes to her son’s toy chest and pulls out a small plastic spider and brings it with her to work. An executive is looking to enhance her savvy skills. Here is an example of cuing at work. and reframing. Behavior rehearsal drives discipline. Referred to also as a cognitive cue. She looks over at the prepared lunch she brought and thinks . Chaining was cited as an example in the opening section on tools as breaking a development hurdle down into doable segments. or phrase to prompt a desired behavior Reframing: Changing a perspective. Cuing is like a literal call to action for the brain. or some tangible object to set your behavior on its new path. in this case from a negative to a positive6 The point has been made that Obama is a disciplined individual. cuing. She places it on her desk just next to her computer screen. An added value of chaining is that it fosters methodical organization and focus as well. LEFT-BRAIN TOOLKIT Behavior rehearsal: Practicing a new behavior until it is ingrained Chaining: Taking successive steps to a desired goal Cuing: Using an object. it is actually better to start off small and work your way up. Behavior rehearsal can help drive more assertive behaviors in the underassertive. It can be likened to Obama’s “building a house brick by brick” method. It can help break bad interpersonal habits that compromise our ability to be grounded. While the temptation in behavior change is often to start with that which challenges us most.

Cuing has limitless utility. cuing clearly extends beyond its left-brain place with expanded right brain reach as an enhancer of imagination. Resistance. feedforward. that the Plus Factor tools are your first line of defense. The case was made that Plus Factors facility can and will determine how effective you are as a leader overall. who dreads resistance when trying to effect change is asked to think instead of resistance as an indicator that the change process is working. for instance. It would stand to reason. others from health and wellness practices. and stress busters. Reframing uses left-brain logic to see things in a different light. Plus Factor Tools Plus Factor tools come from varied origins. though. PLUS FACTOR TOOLKIT Attitude setting: Moving to a desired mindset Deep breathing: Concentrated breathing activity to promote calm Feedback: Evaluative information from an assessment. These are tools you should seek to draw from first. is actually a natural reaction to change. survey. People think more about what they stand to lose than what they stand to gain. that the behaviors resilient and savvy in effect bolster your effectiveness in the other eight right. “That will keep until tomorrow. deep breathing. the illogical thought is to expect to move through change without pushback.and left-brain behaviors. reframing can help position this leader to better face her challenges by being on firmer logical ground. Plus Factor tools described in the shaded box below include attitude setting. For a leader whose left-brain development goal is to be better able to confront opposition and to bring closure to needed changes. the creative process for settling on the proper cue affords this unique development tool a place on the right side of the brain equation as well. and promote well-being7 . We take an illogical thought and reframe it into a logical one. Each Plus Factor tool is aimed at supporting different aspects of your resilient and savvy development. or person Feedforward: Prefacing statements Mentors: Experienced role models who guide and support Stress busters: Targeted activities that alleviate tension. and they resist. A leader. then. something that shows that the change is being taken seriously. Some emanate from motivational psychology. In this example. rejuvenate energy. While cuing itself is a left-brain activity.” She calls a colleague to meet off campus for lunch. mentors. and the remainder from the principles of interpersonal communication. feedback. As such.130 Right Brain/Left Brain President to herself.

While a positive attitude is often an important mindset choice. think more broadly about attitude as aligning your expectations. There are several techniques for deep breathing. It sometimes helps to concentrate on a prompting . stop and practice deep breathing. sit comfortably. for example. It is the foundation of many if not all relaxation exercises. Find adjectives to reflect the attitude you need to act from. and of yoga and meditation. While you are breathing. count to ten with a cleansing breath.Becoming More Obama-Like 131 Attitude setting is about possessing the right frame of mind for a given circumstance. Close your eyes. consider the complexity of the matter at hand and determine the suitable attitude for the level of intricacy. When considering your attitude. The process presented here is a straightforward form that can be done anywhere you can find a quiet seated place. Deep breathing is an invaluable aid. deep breath. How does attitude setting work? You will need ten to fifteen minutes and a quiet place free from interruption. If. would he be formidable enough to make his case? Certainly he would not be. The president appears to recognize the need to incorporate multiple facets into his attitude setting. It is best done at the outset of your day. what you set out to accomplish. that his mindset must be as complex as the problems and issues he is attempting to address. deep breathing can help. What do you most need to accomplish? Do you need to come across well to a particular group? Do you need to bring clarity to a problem or issue? Do you need to facilitate movement on a project? Do you need to tend to team dynamics? Call up whatever the key needs are for the day and determine the best frame of mind to drive a successful outcome. Consider the nature of your challenges and expectations. President Obama’s attitude about winning on health care reform were based solely on a positive viewpoint. and take a slow. It will help to keep you from taking the bait. Many believe it facilitates overall health and well-being. work to clear your mind of distractions. You will see him reflect his broad-based posture in the various communication tones he takes on. In essence. deep breath. Deep breathing has long been found to help reduce stress and improve thought clarity. You are now ready for your day. Open your eyes and speak the adjectives aloud. from welcoming and collegial to confrontational and limit setting. rest your arms on your legs. Sit with your eyes closed and begin to think about the schedule ahead. If you are juggling multiple tasks and beginning to feel frazzled. If you feel like your buttons are getting pushed. Obama’s attitude reflects instead all of the above. filling your abdomen rather than contracting it. Deepen the breaths as you go along. with the best outlook to get you there. You need to build up to a slow.8 Whenever your driven nature makes it difficult for you to feel composed. This you can see is far more complex than the singular stance of positive. You accomplish this by focusing on your breathing speed and progressively increasing the air intake. One could say Obama’s attitude setting in many instances reflects that of an understanding inclusive leader with certain bottom lines. This kind of breath will take practice.

influence perceptions. which is referred to as phatic communication. They have also been noted to encourage clear and reflective thought. Obama uses feedforwarding as a natural aspect of his speaking. the Obama family pet. In using this tool you are doing proactive work on your image while showing audiences empathy and added respect. He frequently tees up conversations with prefacing statements. Mentors are invaluable development aids for leaders. and relaxation with the unconditional love they provide. and they have the reverence to seek counsel from others who are accomplished. Pets can be a wonderful source of fun. Born from diversity in makeup and rearing. What did we learn from Obama in terms of how he deals with stress? He subscribes to a disciplined physical exercise regime. Feedback has been covered earlier in the chapter as an important and ongoing tool in your development process. for one. Summary Thoughts This book has asked you to think about the uncommon leadership ability of President Barack Obama relative to right. experts. icons. He is well read. feedforward is an alert tool with many uses. such as to open the lines of communication. A feedforward is information you provide that prepares others for what you are about to say. tai chi. soaking up all he can from past presidents. Obama. He pays attention to diet as a way to stay well and thereby deal more effectively with stress. past and present leaders. concentration. Obama uses mentors in two special ways.132 Right Brain/Left Brain President sound or phrase.and left-brain leadership breadth and depth. and meditation have been found to promote overall calm. Stress busters can take many forms. circumvent misunderstandings at the outset. It can serve a number of purposes. Let’s not forget Bo. health. Different from feedback. Phatic communication is that which sets a mood or a social nicety. and history. This cue will tell your brain to respond differently than it has in the past. Lastly. While most hard-charging leaders like Obama are prone to physical exercise regimes. The smartest individuals know what they don’t know. They recognize how to use resources available to them. the alter-brain utility of quieter forms of exercise may actually afford more varied resilience benefits. and be seen as more responsible overall. The final Plus Factor tool is a range of activities we will refer to as stress busters. and wellness. He also forms mentoring relationships with key individuals from whom he can learn. those that use deep breathing. Yoga. A final set of stress-busting activities that warrant mention are those forms of exercise that are more inward based.9 Feedforward messages enable you to begin on a positive note. and stretching as their foundations. Obama finds peace in the love of his family—his wife and children. He loves to walk and to run to de-stress and to clear his mind. validation. Loving close relationships can be a powerful relaxer. A feedforward can also express an expectation or provide a disclaimer. ultimately through his own .

as I work to put the final touches on the book. what continues to be impressive is how steady. a befitting validation of Obama’s worth.Becoming More Obama-Like 133 self-directed determination. and to the point. former president Bill Clinton was being interviewed on the Larry King Live television program. and thorough he is in spite of the onslaught of issues.11 Today. President Clinton was asked what he believed was President Obama’s greatest strength. As Obama has moved into the now ten-month mark of his presidency. It obviously took clearer form following the election results in November 2008. I began this project midway through the president’s campaign. 2009. and engaging. He was insightful and playful. Obama’s right. delivered in Ghana. focused. continued international hot spots. is able to draw from a full array of leadership talents to meet both his aspirations and challenges. the news broke that President Obama had been awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace. He was candid. Clinton was pointing to Obama’s right and left brain working in consort. realistic.10 The following evening President Obama appeared on David Letterman’s latenight television program. Included in those accomplishments were the following milestones and positions: • His determination to press the world of nations to free the planet from nuclear threats • His reaching out to the Muslim world to reshape the tone and positioning of U. The president was recognized for a series of efforts throughout the first year of his presidency to change the ways in which we think and act toward one another as primal to improving each and every one of the world’s problems.S. He pondered the future and was in the moment spot-on. On September 21. steady. collaboratively and integrally. Among other questions. In the face of the heated health care debate. His interview with host Letterman was in many respects the book’s capstone. determined to create lasting benefits and sustainable change. to his learned style of answering direct and complex questions. Clinton described that Obama seems able to connect the dots between projects and drive synergies and interrelationships in impressive fashion. He seems in this for the long haul. How he approaches his work and what fundamentally drives him is very different from the leadership of the moment we typically see around us./Muslim relations • His messages to help better empower Africans in their own plights. and global economic woes. but most impressive was how he is able to handle multiple critical priorities simultaneously and to handle them all well. the way it was designed to function.and left-brain interwoven abilities were in full swing. He was comfortable and reassuring. a locale strategically selected for the gains that country had already made in this direction . He does not default to quick fixes and short cuts. and he repeatedly thwarts political opportunism. He laughed one moment and switched gears effortlessly when the situation warranted. Clinton remarked that Obama’s strengths were many. the president was calm.

134 Right Brain/Left Brain President • His emphatic declaration and reframing of Middle East peace as a “win-win” proposition • His thrust at the United Nations General Assembly for world leaders to more collectively and substantively own and work together on challenges that affect us all. The integral nature of Obama’s thinking lends itself to root cause problem solving . this is all about extending your contribution through collaboration and modernization. Such dated measures will result in having to fight the same battles over and over as we persist in working harder rather than smarter. Obama’s enactment of savvy as integrity politics can also. Parting Inspirations In closing I thought it a fitting tribute to call upon the voices of some whose thinking could have inspired or perhaps did inspire President Obama. Seek fresh shared ways to add value. From this recognition. success should no longer be measured by immediate victories and short-term gains. As a wake-up call to leaders. we can believe even further in the Obama brand of leadership with respect to ultimate potential. Remember. Therein lies our real energy crisis. you will push your brain to full engagement. Start today by identifying a trait and tool pair that can take you closer to your leadership vision. though. Think about how the powerful messages from the following leaders can contribute further still to your right brain / left brain leadership thinking as they may have contributed to his. Choose and prioritize wisely. Perhaps with this in mind we can better consider Obama’s perspective on. know that more is not better— different is. knowing he has only begun the work at hand. for sustainable gains and for impact above and beyond. . Keep in mind the following process and you’ll be on your way. I hope the book has provided clear examples and options to assist in enhancing your leadership impact. on our home front. begin to restore our party system to how it was intended to function. Now is the time for the new age of leadership. Continue to do so and the ghosts of leadership past will come back to haunt you. assertiveness as a balance between tenacity and attaining buy-in. while his collective orientation stresses unification over divide. Begin to work on improvements progressively. say. If you’ve learned nothing else. Come to know your behavioral strengths and areas for opportunity. Using the Obama brand of leadership as your new scorecard. not simply that of winning the fight of the moment. including a meeting of the United Nations Security Council that Obama himself chaired • His commitments to more definitively fight climate change12 Obama was humble in his acceptance of this great honor.

and learning from failure. —Mohandas Gandhi14 It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. It’s the life in your years. —Abraham Lincoln13 A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history. —Colin Powell17 A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus. it’s is not the years in your life that count. you’ll do things differently. .Becoming More Obama-Like 135 In the end. It is the result of preparation. and at last you create what you will. —George Bernard Shaw19 Thank you for allowing me to share in your leadership creations. —Warren Buffett15 When will our conscience grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than to avenge it? —Eleanor Roosevelt16 There are no secrets to success. Special thanks to President Obama for his eminent leadership example. you will what you imagine. hard work. You imagine what you desire.18 Imagination is the beginning of creation. —Martin Luther King Jr. If you think about that.

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made this book possible. and in particular my editors. Debbie Carvalko and Dr. The book’s foreword was written by a respected colleague. respectively. and for your supportive words. and to how you inspire the institute’s practices. My publisher. serving on the staffs of two presidents and now in the private corporate sector as a senior vice president for strategy. and Debbie’s strong suit in leaving no stone unturned brought the project home. To the clients and staff of the Lead Life Institute. Jennifer Ogle. Dr. Dr.Acknowledgments This book is dedicated to President Obama for his inspiration. Christopher Shoemaker. Shoemaker has had a distinguished leadership career in the military. Annette Kelton. He is also an accomplished writer and a true Renaissance man—a consummate “full-brain” leader. and Sean Stegall. Support in the day-to-day came from the tireless efforts of Michelle Rooney and Katie Welykoridko. Chris’s vision helped to push the envelope. . Thanks to you for your openness to the Right Brain / Left Brain model and related tools. it is compelling to work with dedicated leaders who want nothing more than to make a difference. Writing about this exceptional leader has been a thoroughly reaffirming experience. I greatly value his support and counsel as a mentor and a friend. Chris Stout. Peter Landau. Their research and attention to detail was flawless and invaluable.and left-brain mentors. special thanks for taking the time to preread the manuscript. Joseph Flaherty. for your feedback. Chris and Debbie served as the project’s right. Their friendship is ever so appreciated. Dr. To the respected and esteemed individuals who served as endorsements for the book. Kathy Bussert of Design Spring is appreciated for her creative and technical talent. I look forward to what’s to come from the Obama years and how his example will inspire leadership into the future. Praeger of ABC-CLIO.

patience. Sarah. my aunts. and Christine Troianello. who cheered the book on and tolerated the black hole I often vanished into in order to get this project done. someone I deeply admire for his brand of leadership courage. Patricia and Yasmine. and Sam. Nicole. Pat. and my cousins. Holli Beckwith. Karen. who provide that particular love Westies are so very good at. my brother and sister. I so appreciate your perspectives. and mostly how you continue to care for and believe in me. Fran and Roger Holmstrom. My husband. Jimmy.138 Acknowledgments Support of a different nature came from my family and friends. I remember and acknowledge always my grandparents Swift and Lucy. and typed. Skip and Marilyn Rosskam. our daughters. Janine. . and typed . Lisa. my sister-in-law. Sue Spinella. Kevin Monahan. . Jerri Frantzve. is. To the rest of my family—my mom. Jean-Pierre. my nieces and nephew. and knew just when and how to make me take breaks. integrity. To dear friends Anita Augustine. my uncles. Rosemarie. Nancy Landau. I’m proud to say. and Michael Peters. Gina. and connection anything is possible. Emily Douchette. Susanne. Tony and Bernice. Mike. Annie. the personification of the American dream. I so appreciate your interest and encouragement over the past eleven months. and my grandmother as my original source of feminine wisdom. Mike and Pat Cerisano. my dad and stepmom. From them I learned what really counts when setting out to make a contribution: that through determination. . Bob and Big-guy. Max and Lilly. Of course special mention goes to my furry soul mates. Tony and Linda. Carol. with me in spirit—my grandfather as a self-taught. self-made business success. Don and Donna Hoscheit. Bobby. Toni and Laura. and Kristen—I look forward to our continued times together. Mark and Jessica Hockley. You guys slept in your favorite spots in the office day after day after day as I typed.

Appendix Worksheets .

140 Appendix Behavior Trait Ratings/Line of SITE Figure A.1 Line of SITE Blank Charts—STRATEGIC and INNOVATIVE .

Appendix 141 Behavior Trait Ratings/Line of SITE (continued) Figure A.2 Line of SITE Blank Charts—TRANSFORMATIONAL and ENGAGING .

3 MEGA Mind Blank Charts—METHODICAL and EXPRESSIVE .142 Appendix Behavior Trait Ratings/MEGA Mind Figure A.

4 MEGA Mind Blank Charts—GROUNDED and ASSERTIVE .Appendix 143 Behavior Trait Ratings/MEGA Mind (continued) Figure A.

144 Appendix Behavior Trait Ratings/Plus Factors Figure A.5 Plus Factor Blank Charts—RESILIENT and SAVVY .

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74. 112 Attitude setting (tool). 52. 47. 47 Analytical (behavior trait). 50. confrontational. 113. 143. See also behavior traits: candid. 95. 50. 83 Anticipatory (behavior trait). 122 Ambiguity-allowing (behavior trait). tenacious Assimilating (behavior trait). 63 Approachable (behavior trait). 113 Coalition-building (behavior trait). 53 Candid (behavior trait). 84 – 85 Collaborative (behavior trait). 38. 121. 117 Cheney. 88 – 89. 46. 84 – 85 Assertive leadership. 47. 101 Confrontational (behavior trait). 46. 129 Big-picture oriented (behavior trait). 101. 74. 49. courageous. 130 – 31 Attuned (behavior trait).. 60 – 62. 49. 73. driven. 47. 91. 126 – 27 Adaptive (behavior trait). 6. 17. 47. 88 – 91. 37 – 38. 6. 37. 95. 45. 98. 101 Articulate (behavior trait). 74. 66 Clear thinking (behavior trait). 47. 48. 108 – 9. 35. 101. 61. Richard. 117 Confident (behavior trait). 106. 118 Concise (behavior trait). 110 – 12 Assimilative (behavior trait). 133 Closure-seeking (behavior trait). 49. 49. 105 – 7. closure-seeking. 129. 70. 49. 37. 34. 37. 117 . 113. 123 Brainstorming (tool). 95. 125. 55. 101 – 2 Clinton. 92 – 93. 52 – 53. 47. 87. 1. 118. 113. purposeful. 125. 60. 90 – 95. 113. 50. 42. 92 – 93. 112 Coherent (behavior trait). 131 Constructive intolerance. 126 – 28 Bush. 70 – 71 Astute (behavior trait). 72 Alter-brain behavior. 100. 70 – 71 Behavior rehearsal (tool). 56. 76 Composed (behavior trait). delegating. 101. 48. 70. 63. 91 Chaining (tool). 49. 131 Conceptual (behavior trait). 70. 117 – 18. 49. 106. 93. 11. 129 Charismatic (behavior trait). 11 – 12. 46. decisive. 87 – 89. 92. 48. 27.Index Active listening (tool). 76. 7 – 8. 84 – 85. George W. 133 Cautious (behavior trait). 48. 112 Alignment-driven (behavior trait). confident. William Jefferson. 80. 50.


Index Experimental (behavior trait), 47, 65 – 66 Expressive leadership, 42, 45, 48, 52 – 53, 83 – 87, 91, 112, 117 – 18, 122, 129, 142. See also behavior traits: articulate; coherent; concise; erudite; interesting; passionate; personable; persuasive; prepared; presentable Facilitative (behavior trait), 47, 70 – 71 Factual (behavior trait), 48, 71, 80 – 81, 83 Feedback: benefits of, 121; in development planning, 121, 124; overview of, 119 – 21; as a tool, 130 Feed forward (tool), 130, 132 Flexible (behavior trait), 50, 65, 98, 102 Focused (behavior trait), 48, 79 – 80, 83 Freire, Paulo, 100 Fulfilled (behavior trait), 103 – 4 Genetics: chromosomes, 21; crossing over, 21; genes, 20 – 21, 23; genome, 21; genotype, 21; phenotype, 21 Genuine (behavior trait), 49, 88 – 91 Global (behavior trait), 46, 61, 63, 123 Grounded leadership, 42, 45, 49, 52 – 53, 68 – 69, 87 – 91, 101, 112, 117 – 18, 122, 129, 143. See also behavior traits: approachable; cautious; composed; established; genuine; loyal; pragmatic; questioning; stable; trustworthy Groupthink, 74 Holistic (behavior trait), 34, 37, 46, 61, 90, 123 Imaginative (behavior trait), 34, 47, 65 – 66, 68, 116 Implementing (leadership action), 51 Inclusive (behavior trait), 47, 74, 76, 108, 123, 131 Incremental (behavior trait), 47, 51, 69 – 70, 72 – 73, 117, 125 Innovative leadership, 42, 46, 57, 64 – 66, 68 – 69, 100, 116, 118, 121, 127 – 28,

Cooper, Anderson: interview with Obama, 14 Counterintuitive, 43, 118 Courageous (behavior trait), 49, 92 – 94, 101 Creative (behavior trait), 47, 64 – 65, 116, 127 – 28 Cuing (tool), 129 – 30 Culturally oriented (behavior trait), 50, 106, 108, 112 Curious (behavior trait), 47, 64 – 65, 76 Decisive (behavior trait), 2, 7, 49, 92 – 93 Declaring (leadership action), 51 Deep breathing (tool), 130 – 32 Delegating (behavior trait), 49, 92 – 93 Detail oriented (behavior trait), 48, 79 – 80, 83 Diplomatic (behavior trait), 50, 105 – 7, 112 Drawing (tool), 126 – 28 Driven (behavior trait), 49, 92 – 93 Dunham, Madeline, 27 Dunham, Stanley, 23, 27 Dunham, Stanley Ann, 23 – 25 Dynamic interplay, 2, 39, 52, 90 Effective (behavior trait), 82 – 83 Emotionally sound (behavior trait), 50, 98, 101 Empathic (behavior trait), 25, 47, 74, 76 Empowering (behavior trait), 47, 74, 76 Engaging leadership, 42, 45, 47, 52, 54, 57, 73 – 74, 76 – 77, 84, 87, 92, 112 – 13, 117 – 18, 120, 122, 127, 128, 141. See also behavior traits: charismatic; collaborative; empathic; empowering; inclusive; inquisitive; listening; motivational; respectful; responsive Environmental (behavior trait), 50, 98, 103 – 5 Erudite (behavior trait), 48, 84 – 85 Established (behavior trait), 49, 88 – 90 Ethology: cross-cultural existence, 21 – 22; defined, 21; sensitive periods, 22 – 23

Index 140. See also behavior traits: creative; curious; experimental; imaginative; novelty-seeking; pioneering; playful; risk-taking; spontaneous; unconventional Inquisitive (behavior trait), 47, 65, 74, 76 Insightful (behavior trait), 9, 46, 60 – 61, 63, 133 Interesting (behavior trait), 49, 85 – 86 Intuitive (behavior trait), 34, 36 – 37, 46, 60, 63, 106 Lakoff, George, 15 Leader’s audiences: cultures, 42, 47, 50, 70, 106, 111, 121; individuals, 42, 47, 55 – 56, 70, 121; teams, 42, 47, 50, 55 – 57, 70, 74, 121 Leadership actions. See declaring; implementing; operationalizing; visioning Leadership behaviors. See assertive; engaging; expressive; grounded; innovative; methodical; resilient; savvy; strategic; transformational Leadership Behavior Rating Form, 121 – 22 Leadership breadth, 77, 115, 118, 122, 132 Leadership depth, 115, 123 Leadership development: breadth analysis, 121; depth analysis, 122; initial reflection / visioning, 119; STOPSTART-CONTINUE (development plan format), 124 – 25. See also active listening; attitude setting; behavior rehearsal; brainstorming; chaining; cuing; deep breathing; drawing; feedback; feed forward; mentors; reflection; reframing; stress busters; visioning Leadership vulnerability, 3 Left-brain leadership: essentials, 117. See also MEGA Mind Left-brain toolkit, 129 Left hemisphere, 34 Line of Site, 45 – 46, 57, 59, 116, 118, 140 – 41


Listening (behavior trait), 47, 74, 76, 117 Logical (behavior trait), 34, 48, 80, 82 – 85, 130 Looking in (Plus Factor positioning), 49, 51, 97 Looking out (Line of Site), 45 – 46, 51, 118 Looking over (MEGA Mind), 47, 51 Loyal (behavior trait), 49, 75, 88 – 90 McCain, John, 38 MEGA Mind, 47 – 48, 117 – 18, 142 Mentoring (behavior trait), 47, 70, 72, 132 Mentors (tool), 130, 132 Methodical leadership, 42, 45, 48, 52, 53, 79, 82 – 83, 87, 91, 117 – 18, 122, 127, 129, 142. See also behavior traits: analytical; detail oriented; effective; factual; focused; logical; organized; procedural; sequential; task oriented Moral imperative, 14 – 15 Motivational (behavior trait), 47, 52, 74, 76, 100 Multidominance, 34 – 35, 95 – 96 Multidominant, 34 – 35, 37, 43 – 44, 95, 122 Networking (behavior trait), 31, 50, 106, 108 – 9, 112, 129 Nobel Prize for Peace, 133 Novel learning, 35 Novelty-seeking (behavior trait), 47, 65, 68 Nonverbal communication, 76 – 77 Obama, Barack Senior, 24 Obama, Michelle, 32 – 33, 104 100th day press conference, 52, 54, 56 Open to learning (behavior trait), 47, 70, 107 Operationalizing (leadership action), 51 Opportunity-conscious (behavior trait), 47, 70 – 71 Organized (behavior trait), 48, 79, 82 – 83


Index Risk-taking (behavior trait), 46, 65, 68 – 69 Savvy leadership, 42 – 43, 49 – 50, 76, 96 – 97, 105 – 6, 108 – 13, 118, 121, 129 – 30, 144. See also behavior traits: assimilating; astute; coalition-building; culturally oriented; diplomatic; networking; promotive; subtle; timely; visible Sensitive periods. See ethology Sequential (behavior trait), 34, 48, 80, 82 – 83 Shrewd (behavior trait), 46, 60, 63 Soetoro, Lolo, 28, 33 Spiritual (behavior trait), 32 – 33, 50, 98, 102 – 3, 105 Spontaneous (behavior trait), 47, 64 – 65, 68 Stable (behavior trait), 35, 38, 49, 88 – 89, 101, 105 Strategic leadership, 42, 45 – 46, 52 – 53, 55, 57, 59 – 61, 63 – 64, 68 – 69, 116, 121 – 23, 140. See also behavior traits: anticipatory; big-picture oriented; conceptual; global; holistic; insightful; intuitive; shrewd; theoretical; thoughtful Stress busters (tool), 130, 132 Subtle (behavior trait), 50, 106, 108, 112 Task oriented (behavior trait), 48, 79, 82 – 83 Tenacious (behavior trait), 24, 49, 92 – 93, 125 Theoretical (behavior trait), 8, 22, 63, 125 Thoughtful (behavior trait), 4, 13, 17, 60 – 61, 63, 90 Timely (behavior trait), 50, 106 – 7, 112 Tolerant (behavior trait), 50, 98, 102 Transformational leadership, 42, 45, 47, 52, 57, 69 – 71, 73, 87, 92, 100, 112, 116, 127 – 28, 141. See also behavior traits: adaptive; alignment-driven; ambiguity-allowing; assimilative; attuned; facilitative; incremental;

Passionate (behavior trait), 48, 76, 84 – 86 Personable (behavior trait), 48, 85 – 86, 100 Persuasive (behavior trait), 49, 69, 85 – 86, 109 Physically fit (behavior trait), 103, 104 Pioneering (behavior trait), 46, 65, 68 – 69 Playful (behavior trait), 47, 64 – 65, 85, 100, 116, 133 Plus Factors, 49 – 50, 96 – 97, 118, 130, 144 Plus Factor Toolkit, 130 Positive (behavior trait), 50, 98 – 100 Powell, Colin, 16, 135 Pragmatic (behavior trait), 2, 28, 49, 88, 90 – 91 Prepared (behavior trait), 48, 84 – 85 Presentable (behavior trait), 48, 84 – 86 Procedural (behavior trait), 48, 79, 81, 83 Promotive (behavior trait), 50, 106, 110 – 13 Purposeful (behavior trait), 49, 92 – 93 Questioning (behavior trait), 49, 88, 90 – 91 Readiness (for learning), 29, 33 Reflection (tool), 101,119, 126, 128 Reframing (tool), 129, 130, 134 Relaxed (behavior trait), 50, 98, 103 Resilient leadership, 42 – 43, 49 – 50, 96 – 98, 100, 103 – 5, 112, 118, 122, 130, 144. See also behavior traits: clear thinking; emotionally sound; environmental; flexible; fulfilled; physically fit; positive; relaxed; spiritual; tolerant Respectful (behavior trait), 47, 74, 76 Responsive (behavior trait), 47, 74, 76 Right-brain leadership: essentials, 116 – 17. See also Line of Site Right Brain / Left Brain Leadership Model (fundamentals), 4, 41, 51, 91, 119 – 20 Right-brain toolkit, 126 Right hemisphere, 34, 36

112 Visioning (leadership action). 49. opportunity-conscious Trustworthy (behavior trait). 68. 30 . open to learning. 50. 30 Zone of Proximal Development. 88. 116 163 Visible (behavior trait). 128 Vygotsky. 126. 64 – 65.. 51. 119. 52. 47. Lev S. 110. 106. 128 Visioning (tool). 90 Unconventional (behavior trait).Index mentoring.

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Prior to founding the Lead Life Institute. She is a graduate of the University of Hartford. applied psychology. and university teaching. and trainer for both profit and nonprofit organizations. mediation. Dr. and organizations become their best. and clinical psychology. Décosterd has lived and worked in the United States and abroad. influencing. and work /life integration. Dr. implementation and execution. and self-satisfaction. She has also authored the book Right Brain/Left Brain Leadership: Shifting Style for Maximum Impact and the children’s book series titled The Adventures of Magical Max. cultural and team alignment. and a doctorate in human development. designer. Dr. Areas of expertise include leadership and interpersonal development. master’s degrees in educational psychology. strategic change leadership. speaker. attitude and motivation. a learning consultancy offering programs and services to help executives.About the Author and the Lead Life Institute Mary Lou Décosterd is founder and managing executive of the Lead Life Institute. the University of Oklahoma. post-master’s certification in community/school psychology. Her work focuses around four critical success drivers: business acumen. Décosterd has twenty-five years of experience in organizational development. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology. teams. wellness. Décosterd is adept at assessing individual and organizational needs and obtaining results. Décosterd was a partner at a Chicago-headquartered international consulting firm. was a tenured university professor. She has been recognized by Who’ s Who in Teaching and Outstanding Women of America. She works as an executive coach to leaders and leadership teams and as a facilitator. and before working there she had her own consulting practice. organizational development. Dr. and held high-level leadership positions in the nonprofit sector. and the Fielding Institute. executing. The Lead Life Institute is a research-based learning consultancy offering dynamic programs and services to help executives and their teams realize their potential .

opportunities. The overall aim of the Lead Life Institute is to help individuals and organizations attain next-level success through sound strategic leadership and strong. The life aspect focuses on attitude. and complexities of today’s world. aligned operating cultures.166 About the Author and the Lead Life Institute and become their best. and resilience. women’s executive development. Recognizing the challenges. leadership development. and training design and delivery in more than twenty areas of expertise. the Lead Life Institute provides state-of-the-art approaches for business and organizational success. . interpersonal power. the Lead Life Institute focuses on the successful integration of leadership and life skills. with leadership as a broad term encompassing business and professional acumen. how the leader favorably impacts the world. The Lead Life Institute offers executive coaching. and how the leader makes a difference. as well as work /life success seminars and individual /organizational assessments. team excellence. As the name indicates.

A clinical psychologist specializing in health. and a distinguished practitioner in the National Academies of Practice. PhD. Bruce Bonecutter. Bonecutter is also a long-time member of the American Psychological Association Taskforce on Children and the Family. past president of the Illinois Psychological Association. His works have been translated into six languages. PsyD.About the Series Editor and Advisory Board Chris E. Dr. Stout is a fellow of the American Psychological Association. Mr. He is the founding director of the Center for Global Initiatives. and the Mental Health Association of Illinois. and forensic psychology. is a licensed clinical psychologist and is a clinical full professor at the University of Illinois College of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry. Stout. He has lectured across the nation and internationally in nineteen countries and has visited six continents and almost seventy countries. and he has served as an invited faculty at the Annual Meeting in Davos. the Alliance for the Mentally Ill. He was appointed to the World Economic Forum’s Global Leaders of Tomorrow. Stout has published or presented more than 300 papers and 30 books/manuals on various topics in psychology. . He served as a NGO special representative to the United Nations. is director of behavioral services at the Elgin Community Mental Health Center. He is a member of organizations including the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers International. MBA. He is the recipient of the American Psychological Association’s International Humanitarian Award. Dr. consulting. the Illinois Department of Human Services state hospital serving adults in greater Chicago. He was noted as being “one of the most frequently cited psychologists in the scientific literature” in a study by Hartwick College. He is also a clinical assistant professor of psychology at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

serving as psychiatric consultant to the Navajo Area Indian Health Service at Window Rock. the first behavioral health company ever to win the JCAHO Codman Award for excellence in the use of outcomes management to achieve health care quality improvement. Miller. Tennessee Association of Mental Health Organizations. PhD. PhD. Arizona. one of the nation’s leading not-forprofit graduate schools of psychology. Miller is also an examiner for the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. MD. Flaherty has also been staff psychiatrist and chief of psychiatry at Veterans Administration West Side Hospital in Chicago. He’s been director of undergraduate education and graduate education in the department of psychiatry at the University of Illinois. a professor of psychiatry at the University of Illinois College of Medicine. is president and professor of clinical psychology at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Oklahoma Psychological Association. and director of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. He is founding editor of the American Journal of Addictions and founding chairman of the American Psychiatric Association’s Committee on Alcoholism. he has focused his work on psychoanalysis. Sheldon I. and also the Falk Institute in Jerusalem. He is also director of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. He is a member and past president of the Executive Committee for the American Academy of Psychiatrists in Alcoholism and Addictions. he served as dean and professor of the Arizona School of Professional Psychology. He is president of the board of directors for the Community Healthcare Foundation in Bloomington. the North Carolina Council of Community Mental Health Centers. Michael Horowitz. Horowitz’s special interests include the study of fatherhood. Dr. Dr. Dr. is a professor of psychiatry at Northwestern University and director of the Stone Institute of Psychiatry at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.168 About the Series Editor and Advisory Board Joseph Flaherty. He has served as a consultant to agencies including the Ohio Department of Mental Health. intensive individual therapy. is chief of psychiatry at the University of Illinois Hospital. the National Institutes of Mental Health.S. and couples therapy. MD. Mr. Flaherty has been a consultant to the World Health Organization. and . Public Health Service. He is a founding member of the Society for the Study of Culture and Psychiatry. is chief executive officer at the Center for Behavioral Health in Indiana. He has provided disaster mental health services to the American Red Cross. Dennis P. and has been a member of the board of directors for the American College of Sports Psychology. and a professor of community health science at the UIC College of Public Health. A clinical psychologist practicing independently since 1987. Morrison. Miller has also been a lieutenant commander in the U. Dr. director of the American Board of Emergency Medicine. Earlier.

He is clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Texas Health Science Center. He has been cited on the Best Doctors in America listing since 1998. Reid. He has served as president of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law. . as well as a clinical faculty member at the Austin Psychiatry Residency Program. and consultant to attorneys and courts throughout the United States. Reid is also an adjunct professor of psychiatry at Texas A&M College of Medicine and Texas Tech University School of Medicine. He is chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board and Medical Advisor to the Texas Depressive & Manic-Depressive Association. Reid earned an Exemplary Psychiatrist Award from the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill. is a clinical and forensic psychiatrist.About the Series Editor and Advisory Board 169 the National Center for Heath Promotion in Michigan. Morrison served across 10 years as a medical service corp officer in the United States Navy. Dr. as chairman of the Research Section for an International Conference on the Psychiatric Aspects of Terrorism. Dr. as well as an examiner for the American Board of Psychiatry & Neurology. William H. MD. Dr. and as medical director for the Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation.

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